Tigers rookie Casey Mize turns limited-innings start into a brief study in perfection

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Cincinnati — Casey Mize isn't fighting it any more. He doesn't love it, mind you. But he gets it.

The dreaded governor — the limited-innings starts — is back and will be with him the rest of the season. 

"They've been very transparent," he said after starting and pitching three perfect innings in the Tigers' 4-1 win Sunday against the Reds. "They've planned this out with the goal of getting me to the finish line. We are at the point where we have to do this to make that happen. 

"I'd just be wasting everybody's time if I was sitting there fighting (to stay in the game). It's not easy for any of us to do, but it's the plan. It's what we have to do."

Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize threw three hitless innings on Sunday.

Mize dispatched the nine hitters he faced in just 34 pitches. He threw 27 strikes. He struck out two. And there was no thought of squeezing another inning out of him.

"We have a plan in place and I'm going to stick with it," manager AJ Hinch said. "We all know it's there even if we aren't talking about it all the time. We knew exactly that he was going to get nine outs.

"But Casey has to be one of the most efficient short-start guys in history. Every time we do this with him he seems to get through his three innings in under 30 pitches or just over."

The alternative to innings restrictions for Mize is to shut him down for the rest of the year, and that wasn’t ever a preferred option. With the three perfect innings Sunday, Mize has thrown 138.1 innings this season. That’s 110 more than last year. He’s thrown 2,150 pitches, 1,607 more than last year.

By restricting his innings down the stretch, he will get to pitch a full season, at least 30 starts, for the first time. There’s value in that.

“I think it’s gone well, given the circumstances,” Hinch said before the game. “But I don’t want to evaluate it until we get through this month. There is still another month to work through. There’s going to be this workload management with Casey and Tarik (Skubal), but let’s get to the finish line and see how good we did.”

The hope is that getting through a full season, staying uninterrupted on a five-day or six-day regimen, will put both in a position pitch a full season without restrictions next year.

“We hope we’re going to have a full offseason to have recovery and strength and conditioning and go into next season with a baseline that’s been reset,” Hinch said. “I don’t know exactly what that means. I’ll be happy when the world is back to normal, to be honest.

“Before we get back to pitchers being normal, lets get the world back functioning normally.”

Fair enough.


Twitter: @cmccosky