Series Preview – Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
The picks at the end of these previews are quickly becoming embarrassing. You think you can count on a team with so many powerhouses to compete a little better against one of the worst teams in recent memory. But somehow, someway, the Mariners pulled off a sweep at Comerica Park. That puts my pick record at 6-7 for games, and 0-4 for series. Hopefully that will change this weekend, and the Tigers can pull off a great win against the most-covered team in the world: The New York Yankees.
Friday – 4/27/12
Justin Verlander vs. Ivan Nova
Apparently Ivan Nova was talking a little bit after his last start about he might just be the best pitcher throwing right now. Sure, he’s 3-0 with a fair ERA so far this season. But that’s a bold statement to make, especially considering what’s going to happen in Game 1. So far, no one but Delmon Young has a hit against Nova (which isn’t good, since Delmon was allegedly arrested early Friday morning, and in all likelihood won’t be starting in Friday’s game). That being said, most of the players on the 25-man roster haven’t ever gotten the chance to bat against Nova. So he can boast all he wants about how great he is, but only time will truly tell what’s going to happen. It’ll help that now the Tigers have their own left-handed power bat to take advantage of that short fence in right field.
The reason why Nova should be careful about what he’s saying is because of his opponent in this game: Justin Verlander. I don’t care what Nova thinks of himself as a pitcher, he’s not going to have an easy run of things when Verlander is against him. While Justin has had very mediocre numbers against the Yankees in his career (4-3, 3.97 ERA), he’s still Justin Verlander, and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Even after the early-season hiccup with losing a game in the ninth inning against the Rays, Verlander is still 2-1 with a miniscule ERA. The heaviest hitters up and down the Yankees’ lineup have Brandon Inge-esque batting averages against him, so there’s no one that will do any serious damage to him.
Saturday – 4/28/12
Drew Smyly vs. Freddy Garcia
Freddy Garcia was, at one time, a top-tier pitcher. He’s fallen off a bit in the last few years, but seems to have found something of a home in New York for what appear to be the waning days of his career. 2011 was something of a comeback year for his career, but 2012 has not been kind to him thus far. Boasting a 9.75 ERA in three starts, Garcia needs a good outing if he’s going to right his own ship. Perhaps this is the time to do it, too, as Garcia boasts an 18-8 record against the Tigers in the last 10 years of his career. Granted, he’s been in the majors since 1999, and most of those wins likely came when the Tigers were absolutely awful. But, he’s still had starts in the last five (when the team has been good), and managed to maintain that sort of record. Then again, there’s at least 2/3 of a lineup on the Tigers’ side that hits .300 or better against Freddy. So it’ll probably be up to Drew Smyly to keep the game within reach for the offense.
Smyly has been stellar over his first three starts. Even against the Rangers (who could have easily wiped the floor with him) he pitched well and kept his cool. He’s still not at a point where teams have had a second look at him, but the Yankees are sure to have a worthwhile scouting report now, and could knock him around a bit. But Smyly hasn’t disappointed yet, and with any luck he’ll continue to pitch fantastically. With any luck, he’ll finally get that first win of the season, too. What Drew needs to do, though, is to manage his pitch count better. In three games, he’s only pitched 16 innings. Now, for a rookie, that’s not terrible. But with the sort of numbers he’s been putting up in terms of ERA and strikeouts, he really should be lasting at least six, and possibly seven innings in his starts thus far.
Sunday – 4/29/12
Max Scherzer vs. CC Sabathia
Max has been unbelievably unpredictable this season. The 1-2 record isn’t terrible, but the 8.24 ERA is not a pleasant sight. Not to mention that he will be going against an offense that could really hurt him, and an opposing pitcher that is considered one of the best in baseball. While Max has pretty good numbers lifetime against the Yankees (3-0, 2.84 ERA), he’s been struggling with his command in all four games he’s pitched this season. In two of those games (Boston and Seattle), those command issues came back to hurt him in a big way. Seattle isn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse, so for them to take advantage of Scherzer’s wildness says a lot more about Max than it does about the M’s. New York (despite their lackluster numbers against him) is a much better candidate for taking total advantage of slipups from Scherzer. If Max doesn’t find some semblance of his command in this game, it’s going to be a long day in the Bronx, with plenty of long balls to go with it.
The Detroit Tigers are very familiar with CC Sabathia (even though the longest tenured Tiger, and the one who got the most looks at him when in Cleveland, is now gone). And, despite being one of those elite pitchers, Sabathia has very mediocre numbers against Detroit. With a 15-12 record, and 4.54 ERA, Sabathia isn’t exactly overpowering for the Detroit lineup. There are a lot of hitters with a lot of looks and a lot of success against CC, which could bode well in case Max struggles on the mound.
Game 1: Tigers
Game 2: Tigers
Game 3: Yankees
Final: Tigers win series 2-1
What I wouldn’t give for this series to be predicted 67% accurately, but with Game 3 going to the Tigers as well. I’m losing faith in Max Scherzer. I hope Drew Smyly can keep up the work he’s done thus far. The Tigers have been having so many problems lately, that I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if the mental aspect of it all finally got to them, and they were swept out of New York this weekend. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen. The Yankees don’t need to have their egos stroked any more than they already are by the national media.
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