Series Preview: Detroit Tigers vs New York Yankees (7/31-8/2)

The Yankees have had a successful homestand thus far, winning five of six, and eight of their last ten overall, as they will look to win a fourth straight series versus the struggling Detroit Tigers, who find themselves at 47-56, fourth place in the AL Central. This series marks the first time all season that these two teams have matched up, and it will be the first of two meetings between these teams during the month of August.

Game One: (Monday July 31st | First pitch: 7:05 PM ET)
Michael Fulmer (10-8, 3.35 ERA) vs.  Luis Severino (7-4, 3.03 ERA)
Luis Severino has been as dominant as any pitcher in baseball since the All-Star Break, going seven innings in each of his three starts, and only allowing one earned run in those three games. Severino has seen his ERA drop from 3.54 to 3.03, and has had to outduel King Felix and Chris Sale in two of those starts. Severino has shown that he has the ability to be the Yankees best pitcher down the stretch, and maybe even one of the best in the A.L.

Michael Fulmer has been outstanding in his young two-year career, as the 24-year-old has easily been the ace of the staff this season with Verlander having somewhat of an off year. Fulmer has four pitches but primarily sticks to his mid-90s fastball and is not much of a strikeout pitcher, with only 227 in 293.1 career innings. Watch out for another pitcher’s duel between two young guns who are both under the age of 25.
Photo Credit: AP Julie Jacobson
Game Two: (Tuesday August 1st | First Pitch: 7:05 PM ET)
C.C Sabathia (9-3, 3.66 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 6.18 ERA)
After getting pulled a bit prematurely in his last start, the big lefty C.C Sabathia will look to pick up his tenth victory of the season in the final year of his contract. Behind Severino, Sabathia has been the best Yankee starter all season, staying healthy and giving the Yanks steady solid work. Sabathia will need to pitch better in the Stadium however, posting a 5.63 ERA in seven starts this year at home.

Anibal Sanchez will be on the mound for Detroit, who has had a tough season in 17 appearances and seven starts, posting an ERA of over six and having an opponent batting average above .300. Sanchez has been better as a starter this season, going 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA. Sanchez is a long way removed from the version of himself that threw a no hitter with the Marlins, yet he still has turned in a number of great starts this year.

Game Three: (Wednesday August 2nd | First Pitch: 1:05 PM ET)
Masahiro Tanaka (9-9, 5.09 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmerman (6-8, 5.69 ERA)

Coming off a career high in strikeouts, Masahiro Tanaka will look to finish the Yankee homestand with another outstanding performance, as he was absolutely electric Friday night versus the Rays. There is only one problem, however: this is a day game, and Tanaka has been beyond awful in day games. In six day game starts this year, Tanaka is 0-5 with a whopping 14.81 ERA, including 44 hits in only 20.2 innings. Tanaka needs to shake his day game woes if the Yankees are to win this game.

Zimmerman is another starting pitcher who like Tanaka has numbers this year that are far worse than his career averages, as he has gotten ripped throughout the season. Opponents are hitting over .300 against Zimmerman this year, including 23 home runs and an ugly hits per nine innings number. Zimmerman has also been far worse on the road than he has been at home as, with just a 1-5 record in 11 road starts. Look for the Yankees to tee off on either Zimmerman or Sanchez this series, and if they do not, it will be an utter disappointment to say the least.

Players to Watch: Yankees

Brett Gardner:

The man who had not one, but two walk off hits over the weekend has to be a player to watch, as Gardy showed why he is the emotional leader of this clubhouse. Besides being the emotional leader, Gardner is putting together a very productive season, already hitting a career high in home runs and playing a great left and center field as he always has. Gardner has also been hot over the past week, 9 for his last 24 with three long balls. Don’t be surprised if Gardy racks up a few more big hits over the course of this series.

Photo Credit: AP Julie Jacobson

Clint Frazier:

Red Thunder has been a lightning bolt for the Yanks lineup all month, and despite only hitting .270 with an on base percentage of just over .300, Frazier has been producing when it counts, with an outstanding .389 batting average with runners in scoring position. Frazier has been in the two slot in front of Judge, and has been getting a lot of pitches to hit and seems to be squaring up the ball most of the time he makes contact. Frazier has also shown that he can play some defense, displaying a strong arm and making a flashy play at the wall in Sundays game. The gorilla in the room remains the statement Brian Cashman made that he will be sent down once Aaron Hicks is healthy, which would seem to be very problematic with the way Frazier is playing.  

Players to Watch: Tigers

Justin Upton:

Upton has been the Tigers best hitter this season, but has been going through a bit of a power slump, as he has only hit one home run during the month of July after hitting 16 home runs in the first three months of the season. Despite not getting the homers, Upton is still hitting .299 during the month, and .321 since the All-Star Break. Upton is a dangerous hitter vs left handed pitching, yet is only 1-13 in his career vs C.C and Chapman.

Miguel Cabrera:

It is nearly impossible to talk about the Tigers without talking about the last man to win the Triple Crown, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera seems to be far away from that form, as his numbers, like many of the players on Detroit, are tremendously low. Cabrera is in danger of hitting below .260 for the first time in his illustrious career. Cabrera has only hit 13 home runs after hitting 38 last year, and is hitting an abysmal .216 away from home. Cabrera current 0.2 WAR is also a career low, and it will be interesting to see if he can regain his form from years past down the stretch.
Photo Credit: AP Paul Sancya

The Yankees have faced good opponents since the break, but now they will face a clearly inferior opponent, and a team that they should take at least two of three from. The Yanks bullpen will be rested, and hopefully the bats will be to, as they looked asleep on Sunday. This will be the Yanks first taste of the AL Central of the week, as a four series on the road with the defending AL pennant winner Cleveland Indians awaits, making these three games vs Detroit even more vital to keeping the lead in the AL East. 

Article  By: Matt Luzzi


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