First full season a ‘learning process’ for Detroit Tigers’ Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal


Detroit – Fair or not, control comes with big league player territory, especially for players who come in with the qualifications and hype of Tigers rookie pitchers Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal.

The control heightened these days by the availability and accessibility of data and information can be daunting, distracting, and disruptive for young gamers. And Tiger’s manager AJ Hinch is doing his best to protect his young pitchers from this.

“With so much data, information and analysis going from game to game, we should really turn it all off and do it in steps of five games,” Hinch said on Thursday. “Let it mature, let it happen over time and don’t be so reactive to every single game.

“We get the data, we get the information and we react to it. That’s 30 to 32 reactionary events (for a starting mug) and we don’t want our pitchers to be like that. “

This season has two dimensions for Mize and Skubal – long-term and short-term. This season, her first full season in the big leagues, is about development, about getting used to the highest professional level.

But it’s also about competing in the moment and trying to win baseball games whenever it’s your turn.

However, as Hinch and General Manager Al Avila have said, the ultimate goal for the 2021 season is for Mize and Skubal to establish themselves as pitchers in the big league.

“It familiarizes you with a routine and lets you understand it first,” said Hinch. “We throw a lot of stuff at young pitchers when they first get into the big leagues. But we need to make sure they understand their strengths and what they are doing, and then apply them to the game plan. “

Mize will make his fourth start against the Royals on Friday. Skubal made three starts and made his first appearance as a tandem starter from the bullpen on Wednesday. Both have already made significant adjustments.

For Mize, the fastball with four seams has become his main place. The speed has increased by almost 2 mph and is now 95 mph. Where he mostly threw off his two-seam sinker last year, he has got used to throwing higher four-seam sinkers. This has so far allowed him to get more ground balls and soft contact, especially when commanding his splinter, curveball, and slider.

It was bumpier for Skubal, who spent a lot of off-season time developing a split changeup. However, his power fastball lost a few lives in the process. The speed range is 91-95 mph, which is 93.9. That’s less than the 95-97 mph that he was throwing last year.

“He had to make adjustments to get better results,” said Hinch. “He’s a fastball-dominated pitcher trying to find his way around the strike zone.”

Hinch and pitching coach Chris Fetter both encouraged him to back off the splinter.

“Tarik will throw more curves and sliders over the course of the year and break away from the split,” said Hinch. “And don’t use his fourth-best seat as often as he used it. It’s a learning curve for him. “

On Wednesday, Skubal threw 35 fours, 18 sliders and nine splinters. Hinch said there were still too many splinters. Skubal has thrown 11.5% of the time on the court so far this season.

For the record, Skubal agrees he must step back from the field, but he doesn’t think the splinter affected his fastball.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I throw it like a fastball. It’s not that I’m trying to manipulate a handle or anything like that. The fastball is obviously not where I want it to be. I’ll just keep working on it and just trust the process. “

Regardless of the draft or prospect status, regardless of the hype or hope they represent, very few players enter the big leagues as finished products. It is unfair and unrealistic to expect.

“Getting comfortable with your routine, getting used to your preparation, and then having the next step in getting used to all of your stuff – this is work that is still work in progress for these guys,” said Hinch. “We’re going to see a little success and a little failure. maybe a little more success and then a step back.

“This trip over their first full season in the major leagues is what both must conquer.”

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Twitter: @cmccosky

On deck: Royals

►Series: Four games at Comerica Park, Detroit

►First pitch: Friday – 7:10 pm; Saturday-Monday – 1:10 p.m.

►TV / radio: All games on BSD / 97.1; Saturday and Monday also on MLBN

► Probabilities: Friday – LHP Mike Minor (1-1, 5.17) versus RHP Casey Mize (1-1, 3.38); Saturday – RHP Brady Singer (0-2, 3.77) versus LHP Matthew Boyd (2-1, 2.03); Sunday – LHP Danny Duffy (2-1, 0.50) versus RHP Michael Fulmer (1-1, 3.94); Monday – RHP Brad Keller (1-2, 12.00) versus RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-0, 1.80).

►Minor, Royals: He’s got elite spin on his four-stitch fastball (2,620 rpm), which means he plays harder and has more speed in the zone than a typical 91 mph pitch. For many tiger hitters, this playing field was kryptonite. This is only his fourth career start against the Tigers.

►Mize, Tiger: The home run ball brought him to Oakland on his last start. The athletics beat three homers from him in the first two innings. Overall, however, it was an encouraging start to the season for Mize. His fastball speed is 95 mph, 2 mph faster than last year. And he commands his entire arsenal.


Dusty Kennedy