'Part of the plan': Innings rationing begins for Casey Mize, Tigers fall to White Sox
Detroit — The governor's in the house.
No, not that one.
The dreaded but inevitable workload governor is in session for rookie right-hander Casey Mize, who was pulled after three innings Friday in the Tigers' 8-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park.
Tigers manager AJ Hinch said before the game that Mize would stay on turn and pitch every five days, but his next two or three starts would be limited to three innings.
The hope is that by limiting innings now, Mize will be able to pitch through September without having to be shutdown. Sometime later in July, the plan is to ramp him back up and take the restrictions off until the end of the season.
"We're looking at his couple of starts before the All-Star break as a critical time for us to back off of him a little bit," Hinch said. "Then he has the All-Star break and we'll be pretty careful coming out of the break, and then hopefully that will allow him to ramp back up and pitch a complete season.
"I don't know what we're going to decide in September but we're going to be very proactive on how we're going to handle our young pitchers."
Mize, who gave up two runs in the first inning but settled in and threw 56 pitches with four strikeouts through the three innings, knew this was coming for a couple of weeks.
"AJ has been very transparent through the process of what the season is going to look like as far as workload," Mize said. "This was decided a bit ago. I knew it was coming. It's not something that was dropped on me at the last minute.
"This is part of the plan and we're just going to execute it. I hope I can make every start and finish the season without having a shutdown in September."
Rookie Tarik Skubal, who spent some time in the bullpen earlier this season, has already had some innings pared. But he will likely be restricted at some point in the second half, as well.
"None of us wanted this day to come," Hinch said. "He's been on such a roll. But we have to be proactive and smart about what we're doing with his workload."
The two runs Mize gave up in the first inning nearly held up, as the Tigers could not crack the code against White Sox right-handed starter Lance Lynn. Try as they might.
Lynn needed 117 pitches to grind his way through six innings. Read that again — 117 to get through six. Manager Tony La Russa does things very differently. Lynn gave up four hits and walked five. He stranded five runners in scoring position — Tigers hitters were 0-for-8 in those situations against Lynn.
"We never quite got the knockout punch," Hinch said. "We probably could've got him out of the game early if we won some of those battles. But he did a good job of getting the last out in a lot of those innings.
"We made him work, but that wasn't enough."
Lead-off hitter Akil Baddoo had two hits and two stolen bases. His second hit, in the fifth, sent Jake Rogers around to third. Jonathan Schoop’s sacrifice fly to the fence in left brought Rogers home.
Lynn was wobbly and barely hanging on in the sixth.
Jeimer Candelario led off with a walk and went to second on a wild pitch. Daz Cameron hit a hooking liner toward the left field line. White Sox left fielder Andrew Vaughn, who had quite a night, made a sensational running, diving catch of the ball, saving a run.
Lynn was well over 100 pitches when he stuck out Harold Castro for the second out. After falling behind in the count to Willi Castro, Lynn motioned Castro to first (intentional walk). He wanted to take his chances with right-handed hitter Rogers.
After a seven-pitch battle, Lynn struck him out and walked off the field with a hard-earned 2-1 lead.
"Lynn is going to hang in there as long as his arm is attached," Hinch said.
Mize fell behind four of the first five hitters he faced, and that's where the trouble came. He gave up an RBI single to Yasmani Grandal, who left the game with calf tightness, after falling behind 2-0, and an RBI triple on a 3-1 pitch to Brian Goodwin.
"It is frustrating from a competitive standpoint," Mize said. "I really take pride in getting as many outs as possible and going deep in games. Those are the two most important thing a pitcher can do and it's frustrating when you can't do that.
"It's just a unique situation that I am on board with."
After lefty Tyler Alexander got four outs, veteran right-hander Erasmo Ramirez finally got to make his Tigers’ debut. His contract was purchased from Triple-A Toledo in May but he strained his pectoralis muscle warming up in his first game.
The debut was worth the wait. Carving Xs on both sides of the plate with a sinker and cutter, sprinkling in a couple of change-ups, he blew through the first five hitters in the White Sox lineup — five straight outs.
He was victimized by the Comerica Park lights in the seventh, though. After a lead-off double by Vaughn, Ramirez got Adam Eaton to fly out to right and rookie Jake Burger, making his big-league debut, to fly to center.
Except center fielder Cameron lost the ball in the lights and it fell for a double — Burger’s first big-league hit. Vaughn scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Mendick.
Vaughn capped his night with a 423-foot missile that cleared the visitor's bullpen in left-center off Bryan Garcia in the ninth.
Garcia faced four batters in the ninth and gave up four hits. Buck Farmer came on and got tagged for a three-run homer by Gavin Sheets.
The A.L. Central-leading White Sox continue their reign of terror against the Tigers. They are 30-9 against them since 2019, 18-2 in their last 20, 9-2 this season.