Two years ago, Pedro Martinez knew Casey Mize was destined for Tommy John

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The Tigers drafted Casey Mize first overall in 2018, believing he had the arm of a future ace. He still might. Two years later, Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez could have told the Tigers what they know now: Mize needs Tommy John surgery to repair his damaged right elbow.

In a 2020 interview on MLB Network, Martinez said the combination of Mize's "raw" mechanics and his reliance on a splitter made it "impossible to think that he's not going to get hurt."

"The fact that he has a little hitch in his shoulder, he’s not fully extended and he throws that nasty split finger could scare anybody," said Martinez, the three-time Cy Young winner who pitched 18 seasons in the majors. "If the Detroit Tigers don’t emphasize a lot on his mechanics and clean up his release point with that kind of pitch, you’re probably looking at a guy that’s going to get hurt."

This was during Mize's rookie season, when he threw his splitter about 18 percent of the time, via Baseball Savant. He lowered his usage to about 13.5 percent over the past two seasons, but the damage may have already been done. As Martinez said, the splitter grip, combined with Mize's high velocity, puts "a lot of pressure on the ligaments."

"And for a guy that flies open, normally that will cause stress on your elbow — and you know what comes next," he said.

Martinez said his biggest concern with Mize's delivery is that "he throws against his body a little bit and opens up a little bit too soon."

Asked how he would address it, Martinez said, "I would just get his balance on the mound a little better and I would have him close up a little bit. Keep him a little bit longer and quieter on the front side so that he can land in a good position and get his arm into a good position before he opens up.

"Because as soon as you open up from the top of your body, the elbow gets exposed. And for a guy that throws a lot of split fingers — that’s his wipeout pitch — he’s going to be exposing that elbow a lot, he’s going to hurt his elbow and Tommy John will follow."

Unfortunately for Mize and the Tigers, Pedro was right.

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