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Tigers’ Casey Mize makes first MLB appearance in almost two years, strikes out four against Mets

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Detroit Tigers right-hander Casey Mize made his first appearance in an MLB regular-season contest in nearly two years on Thursday by starting the first game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets (DET 6, NYM 3). Mize, the top pick in the 2018 draft, had been sidelined for most of the 2022 and all of the 2023 campaigns because of Tommy John and back surgery.

Mize, 26, lasted 4 1/3 innings and surrendered three runs (all earned) on five hits and two walks. He also struck out four of the 21 batters he faced. According to Statcast, his fastball averaged 94.8 mph, or a 1.4 mph improvement over his average in 2022. He generated 10 swinging strikes against the Mets, with five of those coming on his signature splitter.  

Here’s footage of Mize’s splitter in all its moving glory:

Mize entered Thursday with career marks that included a 4.29 ERA (100 ERA+) and a 2.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 188 2/3 innings. His contributions had been worth an estimated 2.8 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference’s calculations. 

The Tigers selected Mize out of Auburn. Despite missing significant action, his aforementioned WAR total is more than that produced by the Nos. 2 and 3 picks in that draft: new Pittsburgh Pirates backstop Joey Bart (formerly of the San Francisco Giants) and Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm. It should be noted that the two best players in that first round were both selected outside of the top 20: Chicago Cubs infielder Nico Hoerner (No. 24) and injured Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan (No. 31).

The Tigers came into Thursday’s contest as the lone remaining undefeated team in MLB and kept that honor after winning the first game of the doubleheader.

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