Detroit Tigers: Previewing the New York Yankees

After an ugly four-game set against the Indians, the Detroit Tigers will try and regroup to host the New York Yankees for three games over the weekend.

The Detroit Tigers forgot to bring their bats to Cleveland, dropping all four games while only scoring five total runs. As frustrating as it was to see the offense go limp, the team has no choice but to flush it and focus on the next opponent.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the opposing pitching will remain strong in a three game set against the Yankees. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

Friday, April 13: Jordan Montgomery vs. Mike Fiers

Saturday, April 14: TBA vs. Francisco Liriano

Sunday, April 15: Luis Severino vs. Matt Boyd

Yankee Pitching

Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery turned in a very solid rookie season last year, going 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA and a 8.3 K/9 in 29 starts. He’ll square off against Mike Fiers, making his second start of the year.

Saturday will feature veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano against whomever the Yankees decide to replace fellow veteran left-hander CC Sabathia in the rotation with. The likely option is right-hander Luis Cessa, who was recalled back on April 7. He threw one inning back on April 10 so he should be fresh for Saturday’s game. He will likely have a short leash however, so expect to see a lot of New York’s bullpen on Saturday.

Sunday gives Tiger fans a chance to see dynamic young ace Luis Severino square off against Matt Boyd. Severino broke out in a big way last year, going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA and a 10.7 K/9. He finished third in Cy Young voting. Sevvy is the ace of this Yankees squad, and will give the Tigers all they can handle on Sunday afternoon.

Yankees Hitters

The Detroit Tigers will get to face an elite Yankees lineup, likely one of the best in the league. While they are battling their fare share of injuries (Greg Bird, Brandon Drury, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clint Frazier and Billy McKinney join CC Sabathia on the DL) they still boast a lineup top-to-bottom that will give the Tigers fits. Additionally, fill-in Tyler Austin has been suspended five games for his role in a fight between the Red Sox and Yankees earlier this week.

Veteran center fielder Brett Gardner will hit leadoff for the Yankees. He’s hitting .245 on the year but showing his trademark patience, drawing nine walks for a .362 OBP.

Then come the big guns. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez will likely hit 2-3-4 for New York. Each of them have hit three home runs each this year, or the same number the Tigers have as a team. There’s not much pitching around this trio, as all of them are lethal with the stick.

It doesn’t get much better unfortunately, as Didi Gregorious (also three home runs) Neil Walker and Aaron Hicks are all above average big league hitters as well. With Austin out, prized rookie Miguel Andujar may get some run in this series for the Yankees. Andujar had a monstrous spring training, and only lost out on a 25-man roster spot when Brandon Drury and Walker were both brought in. Andujar is up now and ready to show what he can do.

Tyler Wade has been starting at second base with Walker playing first in place of Bird, so expect to see the young left-handed hitting Wade in the lineup as well.

What to Watch Out For

Friday’s matchup will feature Tigers veteran Mike Fiers making his second start of the year. Fiers began the season on the DL but was masterful in his first appearance of the season, tossing six scoreless innings with one walk and six strikeouts. He will face a much tougher matchup in his second outing, against the vaunted Yankees trio of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. It will likely not be as pretty of an outing for Fiers, but it will be good to see how he keeps his momentum going.

Will the Detroit Tigers ever start hitting home runs? As a team, Detroit has only three home runs all year. One of course by slugger Miguel Cabrera, and the other two by Niko Goodrum and Leonys Martin. Victor Martinez, Nicholas Castellanos and James McCann have not found their power stroke yet this year, something Detroit is going to desperately need if they want to contend in this series. The Yankees will score plenty of runs, so Detroit will need to keep up if they want to avoid losing seven straight.

Lastly, Detroit sent down Mikie Mahtook to make room in their bullpen for Chad Bell. Bell threw four scoreless innings in relief of Michael Fulmer yesterday, doing his part to help a depleted bullpen recover. While his luck will run out, he could serve as an okay reliever if used correctly.

JaCoby Jones is the likely starter in LF for the time being. This should be fun to watch, as he has hit the ball well so far this year. He still has a strikeout problem, but let’s see if he can take the starting job and run with it. Likewise Victor Reyes should draw more playing time this weekend, potentially even another start. If nothing else this weekend, it should be good to see how the LF competition shakes out while Mahtook is in Toledo.

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Detroit will need to take one from the hot-hitting Yankees to avoid an ugly 0-7 week. It’s time for the bats to come alive against some tough, but not Indians tough, pitching this weekend in the Motor City.

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