Casey Mize to undergo Tommy John surgery

Casey Mize to undergo Tommy John surgery

Right-handed Tigers Casey Mize will undergo a Tommy John operation. Manager AJ Hinch broke the news to reporters, including Detroit News’ Chris McCoskywhich relays that Mize’s ulnar collateral ligament is not torn, but is stretched to such a degree that it no longer has elasticity.

The news is obviously a disappointment for Mize and the team. The first overall selection in the 2018 draft, Mize has long been considered one of baseball’s hottest prospects and key to the Tigers’ future success. Last year was his first full season in the majors, with Mize throwing 150 1/3 innings with a 3.71 ERA, 19.3% strikeout rate, 6 walk rate, 7% and a ground ball rate of 48.1%.

Based on the work of Mize and other young beginners Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal, the club felt it was time to get aggressive and spend money on talented veterans to complement their young core. They gave multi-year agreements to Javier Baez, Eduardo Rodriguez and Andre Chafin this offseason, hoping to make the transition from rebuilding to competing.

Unfortunately, pretty much everything went wrong in Detroit this year, with several players losing a lot of time to injury. The starting rotation has been hit particularly hard, with Mize, Manning and Rodriguez all held back by various illnesses, along with Tyler Alexander and Michael Pineda.

In Mize’s case, it was hoped that he could take a step forward in his development this year, his season at 25. Instead, he was only able to make two starts before landing on the injured list in April. In the days following that IL placement, Mize began a pitching program, with the Tigers seemingly breathing a sigh of relief that a major absence had been averted. However, over the next several months, repeated attempts to start throwing eventually led to more discomfort and stoppages. It now appears that instead of the breakout year many were hoping for, 2022 will be a lost season for Mize. 2023 will also be a question mark, given the usual 12-18 months of recovery that is usually required to recover from Tommy John surgery.

In the short term, this will hurt the Tigers’ chances of recovering from their miserable start to the season. They went 10-23 in their first 33 games, but have gone to a much more respectable 13-10 since then. The resulting 23-33 record still isn’t great, but they’re just six games away from a playoff berth in this year’s expanded playoffs. With so many starters on the shelf, the club have relied on unproven youngsters such as Alex Faedo, Elvin Rodriguez and Beau Brieske, who will have to carry on for the time being.

In the long run, Mize will follow Spencer Turnbull on the path of Tommy John, as he also underwent the procedure last year. By the time Mize returns in late 2023 or early 2024, it’s possible the Tigers could finally have the elite rotation they’ve been dreaming of with Mize, Turnbull, Manning, Skubal and Eduardo Rodriguez all healthy, with Faedo, Brieske, Elvin Rodriguez, Joey Wentz and other pitchers are making their way into the mix as well, though all of that will have to wait.

More soon.

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