Opening Day Series Preview: Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees


After three games on the road – three games about which we absolutely don’t want to talk– the Detroit Tigers will head home to open the season in front of the best baseball fans in the country (i.e. Detroit Tigers fans).

Friday, April 5 – 1:08 PM (TV: Fox Sports Detroit)

March 12, 2013; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova (47) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Fister vs. Ivan NovaRHP

Ivan Nova has been the model of inconsistency for the New York Yankees the past couple of years. After a brilliant rookie campaign in 2011 that saw him finish with a 3.70 ERA, he struggled through 2012 to the tune of a 5.02 ERA. His strikeout and walk rates improved, but he allowed home runs at nearly twice the rate of the previous year. If he can control the big fly and keep the ball in the yard, this season could be a big step forward for Nova.

According to Pitch f/x data his repertoire features a 93 mph four-seam fastball (50%), a curveball (30%), and a slider (12%). He may also mix in an occasional two-seam fastball (5%) and a changeup (4%).

Saturday, April 6 – 4:05 PM (TV: Fox)

Oct 16, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher David Phelps (right) is taken out of the game by manager Joe Girardi (middle) in the 5th inning during game three of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer vs. David PhelpsRHP

David Phelps is filling in the New York rotation until Phil Hughes returns from the disabled list. He made 33 appearances last season as a rookie – 11 as a starter and 22 out of relief – so he’s not unfamiliar with his current role. He was very good out of be pen, a 2.76 ERA in 42 innings (.640 OPS against), and although his numbers were decidedly worse, he was still pretty good as starter too, posting a 3.77 ERA in 57 innings (.713 OPS against).

Phelps features a 90 mph four-seam fastball (47%), a curveball (19%), and a slider (17%), and a two-seam fastball (10%). He may also occasionally show a changeup (7%).

Sunday, April 7 – 1:05 PM (TV: Fox Sports Detroit)

Oct 18, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) during game four of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander vs. CC SabathiaLHP

CC Sabathia has been CC Sabathia for a long time, so we pretty much know what we’re going to get from him. He’s going to throw 200+ innings, he’s going to have an ERA in the mid-to-low threes, and he’s going to be as big of a workhorse as there is in baseball. That is, if his velocity returns and he really is going to be able to stay healthy all season. He didn’t look right in Game 4 of the ALCS at the end of last season when the Tigers tattooed him for five runs in 3.2 innings (including two home runs), and his average fastball velocity in his one start so far this season wasn’t even 90 mph. He may really be fine – he’s a notorious slow starter in April – but I’d be nervous about him if I were a Yankees fan.

According to Pitch f/x data, Sabathia typically features a 92-93 mph fastball (36%), a slider (32%), a sinker (18%), and a changeup (12%). Though, as alluded to above, his average fastball velocity on opening day was only 89.3 mph, his lowest average velocity of the last couple seasons.

We’ll surely see Brayan Pena behind the plate for the Tigers in this one – Avila will get most of his days off against lefties (especially tough lefties) – and we’ll probably also see Matt Tuiasosopo make his first start of the season.