8/6-8/9 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers

Fan Confidence Poll: August 6th, 2012
Yankees shutting Banuelos down for rest of season
(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Tigers knocked the Yankees out of the ALDS last season, though the Bombers have taken care of business against Detroit this year by winning four of six games. They’re headed back to MoTown for four games this week, the last time they’ll see the Tigers in 2012 barring another potential postseason matchup.

What Have They Done Lately?

Detroit just took three straight from the hard-falling Indians, scoring five runs in the bottom of the tenth for the walk-off win yesterday. They’ve won four straight overall, but prior to that they’d lost five of six. At 58-50 with a +24 run differential, the Tigers just can’t seem to get over the AL Central hump and currently sit two back of the White Sox in the loss column.


(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Any team with both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder is going to score a boatload of runs, and sure enough the Tigers have averaged 4.6 runs per game this year. Miggy (157 wRC+) and Prince (141 wRC+) have been hitting the snot out of the ball as usual, but former Yankees farmhand Austin Jackson (153 wRC+) should not be lost in the mix. He’s having a breakout season and is easily the best leadoff hitter in the game not named Mike Trout.

The rest of the offense after those three can be a little sketchy, though Andy Dirks (148 wRC+) and Quintin Berry (120 wRC+) have performed very well in limited time — Dirks just came off the DL and Berry started the year in the minors. Alex Avila (101 wRC+) and Jhonny Peralta (101 wRC+) have both been league average with the stick, ditto the recently acquired Omar Infante (104 wRC+) for all intents and purposes. Delmon Young (83 wRC+), Brennan Boesch (79 wRC+), Ramon Santiago (63 wRC+), Danny Worth (63 wRC+), and backup catcher Gerald Laird (104 wRC+ in limited time) are slightly less intimidating. The one thing the Tigers will not do offensively is steal bases — Jackson and Berry are the only guys on the team with more than four steals and they’re at 10 and 15, respectively.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Justin Verlander
The Tigers have won 13 of Verlander’s 22 starts this season, but two of the losses have come at the hands of the Yankees. They tagged him for five runs in six innings in the walk-off passed ball game, then for five runs in 6.1 innings in the Phil Hughes complete game. Other than that, Verlander is pretty awesome. He’s pitched to a 2.63 ERA (3.11 FIP) with dynamite strikeout (8.51 K/9 and 24.2 K%) and walk (2.24 BB/9 and 6.4 BB%) rates to go along with a mediocre ground ball rate (40.5%). It’s a lot of weak pop-ups though, don’t get too excited. Verlander averages 94.5 mph with the fastball but will start the game in the low-90s and ramp it up to the high-90s and triple-digits in the late innings. His mid-80s slider, mid-80s changeup, and upper-70s curve are among the very best offspeed pitches in the world. The Yankees have beaten him twice this year, a third time would be very cool.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Tuesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Rick Porcello
It’s easy to forget that Porcello is only 23 years old despite several disappointing years in the big leagues. He owns a 4.65 ERA (3.62 FIP) with a career-high strikeout rate (5.39 K/9 and 13.5 K%) to go with solid walk (2.29 BB/9 and 5.8 BB%) and ground ball (52.9%) numbers. The Jersey kid relies heavily on his low-90s two-seamer but will also use a low-90s four-seamer to setup a mid-80s slider and a low-80s changeup. He’ll break out an upper-70s curveball on the rarest of occasions. Porcello held the Yankees to one run in six innings in his only start against them earlier this year, but they’ve seen him enough times through the years.

Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez
Acquired from the Marlins prior to the trade deadline, Sanchez has thrown one dud (five runs in six innings) and one strong start (two runs in six innings) since joining the Tigers. The 28-year-old free agent-to-be has posted a 3.99 ERA (3.68 FIP) overall this season with rock solid peripherals — 7.98 K/9 (21.1 K%), 2.57 BB/9 (6.8 BB%), and 47.3% grounders. Sanchez is very offspeed heavy, using his low-90s two and four-seamers a touch more than 40% of the time. Sliders and changeups in the mid-80s are his offspeed weapons of choice, and he’ll occasionally mix in an upper-70s curveball. It’s worth noting that Sanchez has a substantial reverse split this season (.359 wOBA for RHB, .285 for LHB), something that has held true in recent years but not quite his significantly.

Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Doug Fister
Fister missed a bunch of time in the first half with an oblique strain and a subsequent setback, though he’s allowed no more than one earned run in four of his last five starts. His 3.52 ERA is backed up by a 3.21 FIP, and he does it mostly by limiting walks (1.81 BB/9 and 4.9 BB%) and getting grounders (50.5%). The 7.68 K/9 (20.8 K%) is a career-high but strikeouts usually aren’t his thing. Let’s see if it lasts. Fister is a true five-pitch pitcher, using two and four-seamers in the upper-80s as well as a mid-80s slider, a low-80s changeup, and a mid-70s curveball. He uses all five pitches at least 15% of the time, so a big part of his success comes from keeping hitters guessing. The Yankees haven’t seen Fister since the ALDS.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Bullpen Status
The Indians did the Yankees a solid yesterday, pushing Tigers manager Jim Leyland to use his bullpen heavily in the extra-innings win. Setup man Joaquin Benoit (4.12 FIP) gave up two homers in 1.1 IP (22 pitches) and lefty specialist/former Yankee Phil Coke (3.51 FIP) threw 30 pitches across 1.1 IP. The recently recalled Darin Downs (2.99 FIP in limited time) needed 20 pitches to record two outs. Right-handers Brayan Villarreal (2.25 FIP) and Octavio Dotel (1.78 FIP) also pitched yesterday, though closer Jose Valverde (3.98 FIP) and lefty long man Duane Below (3.66 FIP) did not. I suppose it’s not out of the question that they’ll send down Downs in favor of a fresh arm today, but who knows.

The Yankees are in decent bullpen shape even though Freddy Garcia only went five innings yesterday. Both Boone Logan and David Robertson have pitched in two straight days and could be unavailable tonight, potentially leaving setup duties in the hands of David Phelps and I suppose Joba Chamberlain. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the full details, and check out Tiger Tales and Bless You Boys for the latest and greatest on the Tigers.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 6th, 2012
Yankees shutting Banuelos down for rest of season
  • DERP


  • JohnC

    Tigers are hot. Gonna be a tough series. WOuld be happy with a split.

    • Paul VuvuZuvella

      For me on this series; Happy With A Split, Pissed with anything less, Ecstatic with anything more.

  • Swishalicious

    Always tough @ cavernous Comerica……Almost hoping for one close game where we can smack Valverde around a little.

    • David Ortizs Dealer

      Papi Grande is one of those guys who I enjoy watching implode.

      • jsbrendog

        i genuinely hope he gets smashed by a liner up the middle. no longterm damage of course, that’d be wrong, but id love to see the ball smack him in the forehead really hard

        • Robinson Tilapia

          You’re getting soft.

          I hope he suffers no longterm damage AND spends the rest of his days doing analyst work at ESPN when I’m not at the gym and, therefore, not watching.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Not going to be easy, but I actually have reason to be optimistic about every one of these matchups, including tonight’s reverse lock. 3 out of 4? Sure. Why not.

    • Jacob

      Definately, Verlander has been one of the good pitchers to have trouble with the yankees in the past hope it continues tonight

    • Ro

      I’m still a little hell-bent over Nova’s outing last week. The guys is so sure of himself at times and just throws and he is fantastic and then at time’s I see his body language and it looks like 16 year old girl texting or tweeting totally out of focus. Point being, I’m very curious about what we’ll get tonight.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    Good series to gauge where the Yankees are in relation to the type of team they’re going to have to beat in the playoffs.

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      Respectfully, I disagree with this being a good series to gauge that.

      A four-gamer series in the other guys’ park is rarely ever a good way to gauge that.

      Over and above that, the Tigers are really hot right now. They’re on the rebound. If we win 1 out of 4, that is to be expected. And we’re just setting ourselves up for disappointment if we intend to ‘gauge’ anything from this series.

      Tigers may or may not be ‘this’ good come October. But they’re certainly on the rebound from that awful start. So they’re probably playing better than what they’re going to be in the playoffs.

  • tipsie

    get us through 4 @ Det / 3 @ Tor / 4 home to Tex / 3 home to Bos – 7 wins 7 losses, and I’d take that in a minute

    • mt

      Agreed – that next 14 are critical – Detroit and especially Toronto are not their favorite places to play. Texas are defending champs – and if we end hese 4 tseries in good shape, we can say goodbye to Red Sox until mid September and last regular season series at beginning of October (which hopefully will be meaningless for Yanks at that point.)

    • Cris Pengiucci

      No, .500 through this stretch of 14 games won’t cut it. The team should ultimately take at least 9 out of the 14 to ensure they keep or stretch their lead just a bit. For this series, I’d take a split and would love 3 of 4.

      • not that mike

        as long as the rest of the w/l are split evenly ( i.e. not where Yanks sweep detroit yet get swept by Boston ) a ~.500 record will be fine.

        if they get swept by Boston or Toronto, that would be problematic

    • Ro

      Looking at the standings this morning myself. Love drinking a cup of coffee and basically going into a number crunching coma for about 45 minutes trying to rationalize who’s out and who’s in still. What I do know is that the AL sucks this year. In fact, at this very moment, strangely, the White Sox seem to have the best “complete” team. The Yanks in my opinion are right there with them. The Rangers are falling apart and in some sense, caught the Red Sox drama bug. Oswalt, Hamilton, and crowd. Andrus banged up. Pitching is not consistent. Rangers don’t look so hot right now. Angels are better than their record and if the didn’t have that horrific April would probably be on par with the Yanks, if not better in the standings. The Tigers are an odd bunch. The rest of the AL east is a bunch of joker type stuff. Point being, the two real contenders in my opinion as of today out of the AL are the Yanks and Angels. Big statement, I know, and a lot can happen in a short series, but the NL has a few very impressive teams. Concerning Boston they would have to go 35-18 rest of the way to win 89 total games, basically their 2010 record. Ain’t happening, not with that group. I’m guessing they finish up as an 83-84 win team, but I’m praying for 78. I thinking that the NL has a repeat WS winner in 2012. The Reds are the best candidate this year in my opinion. And if the Yanks and Reds meet up in the WS, the Reds have owned us, so not sure how I feel about that..

      • Robinson Tilapia

        ….and it all means zippo once playoff time comes, although you say that as well in the middle there.

        Just get there and play hard.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    ManBan shut down for the year

    • Robinson Tilapia

      A few weeks of pitching wouldn’t have proved much. Start over next year. Still incredibly young for AAA.

  • Ro

    Grumble grumble grumble Austin Jackson grumble grumble grumble….

    • Ro

      In all seriousness though. Good for the kid. He’s pretty much doing exactly as he was rated. He wasn’t scouted to hit for power, which he isn’t, but everything else is coming to fruition for him. We’re pretty much three full years into that trade and while it’s been of benefit to both teams, it’s just really starting to show for the Tigers. Maybe we should trade for him in the offseason with Mason Williams :) kidding.

  • Jobu Rules

    “Detroit just took three straight from the hard-falling Indians, scoring five runs in the bottom of the tenth for the walk-off win yesterday.”

    Scoring five runs in the bottom of the tenth is preeeeeeeetty impressive!