Game 5 lineup Considerations and thoughts on Attacking Nova

Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, the Tigers will battle the Bronx Bombers for the right to play Texas in the ALCS.  Doug Fister will take the mound for the Tigers, and will try and help Detroit stave off elimination.

The Detroit Tigers got their first look at Nova Saturday night, and I will go ahead and make the assumption they were impressed.  In a second, I will try and find some things the Tiger’s lineup can do to try and have a little more success against the Yankees right-hander then they did this past weekend.

But back to Fister.  New York knows what they are going to get from the 6’ 8’’ right-hander, and I question how much more they can tinker things against him.  Fister is very stingy, and with his pitches constantly attacking the zone in a manner that’s difficult to size up, I feel like there’s a clear ceiling regarding what the Yankee’s lineup can accomplish against him.

I anticipate that Fister will throw a garden-variety quality start – allowing three runs in six or seven innings.  I will also make the assumption the Yankees will find a way to tack on another run against Detroit’s bullpen.  This means, the Tigers need to find a way to score five runs Thursday night or their season will be finished.  The last time the rookie Nova allowed more than four runs in a game was August 16th against the Royals, thus, this could be a tall order for the Tigers.

The first thing manager Jim Leyland will need to consider will be who to start at second, third, and right-field.  At second, I assume he will stick with Ramon Santiago.  He has the ability to hit left-handed, plays a bit better defense the Ryan Raburn, and has already notched some big hits in this series.

At third, I think he has to go with his veteran Brandon Inge.  The defense is better, and even though Inge is right-handed, Wilson Betemit has struggled at the plate in this series, looking like the magnitude of the stage is overpowering him.

In right-field, I think Leyland has to go with Magglio Ordonez.  As John Verburg likes to say, Ordonez looks like he runs with a refrigerator strapped to his back, but in Yankee Stadium there will be much less real-estate to cover.  Plus Magglio has excellent opposite-field power, allowing him a decent shot at poking a ball over the short porch in right.

In game one, Ivan Nova frequently started off hitters with sinking fastballs down in the zone.  The Tigers need to find a way to lay off these pitches and work the count.  Even if they get the bat on these offerings, there isn’t much success to be found.  They have to make him get the ball higher up in the zone, and attack accordingly.

When the Tigers were able to get Nova deeper in counts, they hit balls sharply, especially in the fifth inning.  Unfortunately one of these sharp singles into center resulted in Alex Avila getting thrown out at home plate keeping the score tied 1-1.

The Tigers will also benefit greatly by getting runners on base.  Ivan Nova is clearly less effective from the stretch-position compared to when he is a full-windup.  He doesn’t seem to be able to get as much late movement on his fastball from the stretch.

Without a doubt, the key hitters for the Tiger’s lineup against Nova are Alex Avila and Victor Martinez.  These are the two lefties with power that Ivan Nova didn’t seem comfortable pitching against.  Avila and V-mart will either be pitched around, or see some pitches they can drive.  They need to spank these pitches, because Nova will not allow the Tigers too many chances to get runs on the board.  On occasion, Nova flashes a real nice curve, and that will be an equalizer that Avila and Martinez will have to be looking out for.

Obviously, the Yankees’ bullpen makes this a six or seven inning game for the Tigers.  They need to find a way to jump on Nova, or quite simply, they will be finished.

To recap, the Tigers need to work the count on Nova and make him throw the ball higher up in the zone.  They need to get men on base to make him work from the stretch.  And Alex Avila and Victor Martinez need to make strong contributions.

Topics: Alex Avila, Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers, Doug Fister, Ivan Nova, Magglio Ordonez, New York Yankees, Ramon Santiago, Victor Martinez

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  • MCBjohnverburg

    I do like to say that. He kind of runs like those chefs in that old hamburger video game. Can’t even remember the name of it.

    • mickey_baseball

      @MCBjohnverburg This comment just made me laugh like an idiot. For God sakes someone figure out the name of this aforementioned hamburger game. It sounds awesome

      • MCBjohnverburg

        It was basically guys running over hamburgers to score points.

        I think it was Burger Time!

  • arth65456

    I have to say: Watching this series from a Yankee perspective, they are missing Alex Avila’s contribution to this offense. Miguel Cabrera in the games Detroit has lost has not seemed to be there for them other than the 3 RBI game in Game 2.

    Both pitchers will have nerves because they have never been in this situation before of closing out a series. Its going to come down who gets out of more jams. The Yankees know Fister well from the 4-5 times they have faced him and against him, you have to be aggressive because he is not going to walk anybody!

    This is where, personally, Nova’s September of him playing teams in a playoff chase compared to Fister playing AL Central teams, though I can’t criticize who you play, will help Nova here.

    • jgorosh

      @arth65456 Fister gave up 4 ER in 7 starts spanning 56.2 IP. I don’t care who that’s against.

    • jgorosh

      @arth65456 Fister gave up 4 ER in 56.2 IP since August 20. I don’t care who that’s against.

      • arth65456

        @jgorosh I don’t either. I think it plays a small part but doesn’t make a difference in the game, which is why I said you can’t criticize who you play.

        • ChrisHannum

          @arth65456@jgorosh He only made 2 starts for Detroit against playoff teams, but in those starts he gave up 2 runs and zero walks in 14 innings. That’s really no worse than his domination of the Royals and Twinks.

    • ChrisHannum

      @arth65456 In game 1 the Yankees didn’t seem overly aggressive against Fister, they took a lot of borderline pitches and got the calls. That is what the Yankees do. Fister walking 2 is (by his standards) a lot.

      • arth65456

        @ChrisHannum ur right Chris, I wanted the Yankees to be more aggressive early in the count because of the lack of walks, but they are a patient team and used it to their strength. they came out aggressive, but waned out in the later innings to adjust. this game is going to be close throughout and show how even these teams are

  • jgorosh

    with men on, Nova’s OPS against is .619. He’s actually much better from the stretch than the windup, where he has a .766 OPS against.

    • arth65456

      @jgorosh exactly, I think that shows the level of competitor that Nova is. Not saying Fister isn’t, but Nova seems to thrive on those situations. That is why he hasn’t lost since June 3rd. He wants the ball in this situation. I was impressed with how he handled the middle of the order in Game 1 being at the game. He made Cabrera look flustered at the plate

      • jgorosh

        @arth65456 Fister has been absolutely incredible in the last two months. Fister wants the ball, too I’m sure. Fister has a .640 OPS against with men on base. I wonder what it is since joining Detroit, I can’t find that. Fister also has a .578 OPS against with RISP.

        • arth65456

          @jgorosh Absolutely, thats why I am saying this game will be very competitive because these two pitchers are in such a groove right now and this five game series is showing you how evenly matched these two teams are. I love the way Fister is pitching and seeing him Game 1 at the Stadium, I thought he would cruise after getting out of 2nd and 3rd, no one out in front of a screaming Yankee Stadium.

      • mickey_baseball

        @arth65456@jgorosh I know the numbers say otherwise, but I’m pretty sure on this one. I rewatched the game today, and I’m just telling you how I saw it. But, that’s why we have comment sections – so we can talk baseball

  • arth65456

    By the way, while I am on here, I wanted to wish all you Tigers writers the best of luck in Game 5 and may the best team win

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