Detroit has long been one of the betters teams in the American League but has fallen off as its stars have aged and declined in production. The Tigers already traded star slugger J.D. Martinez and may not be done dealing before the July 31 trading deadline. Deals before then could have an effect on this series, so keep close attention to the lineup and the pitching matchups.
Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
Dates: Monday, July 31, 2017 – Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
New York sits a half-game ahead of Boston with a record of 56-47 on the year. The Yankees’ run-differential of plus-115 is the fourth-best in the major leagues and an indication they are on the short list of World Series contenders. New York has been active before the deadline, adding third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson from the White Sox, and it could be looking to add another starter as well.
The Tigers are 47-56 and have waved the white flag on making a postseason push. Detroit has a solid offense, but with big names like Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler, it was hoping to be dominant. That hasn’t happened, and the pitching has struggled badly, which equals a poor record. Detroit must rebuild but there are still enough potent bats in the lineup to win games down the stretch.
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Monday, July 31, 2017, 7:05 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Michael Fulmer (Tigers) vs. Luis Severino (Yankees)
The best pitching matchup of the series will be in the opener. Fulmer is 10-8 with a 3.35 ERA, and while he’s not a big strikeout guy, has proven in his young career to be an effective starter. Fulmer was hit hard for eight runs -- five earned -- in 2.2 innings on July 20 by the Royals, but he bounced back by firing eight strong innings in a rematch with Kansas City last time out.
Severino has taken the leap to an upper-tier starter in 2017. He is 7-4 with a 3.03 ERA. Severino has 145 strikeouts in 127.2 innings pitched with a strikeout-to-walk ratio better than 4-to-1. Severino enters after allowing no runs in either of his past two starts.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 7:05 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Anibal Sanchez (Tigers) vs. C.C.Sabathia (Yankees)
If this was a decade ago, the second game of the series would feature a marquee pitching matchup. However, Sabathia and Sanchez are both on the back side of their careers at this point. Sanchez spent time in the minor leagues this season and enters with a record of 2-1 and a 6.18 ERA. He probably isn’t starting material any more but Detroit needs an arm.
Sabathia no longer has elite stuff but has been able to adapt. He is 9-3 with a 3.66 ERA. Sabathia does not have big strikeout numbers and his walk rate isn’t elite, so there is a reasonable concern that he could always get lit up. However, Sabathia has been savvy with his pitches thus far and will try to keep the Tigers bats off-balance.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 1:05 p.m. ET (MLB Network)
Jordan Zimmermann (Tigers) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (Yankees)
Zimmermann was signed to a big-money deal by Detroit that he has not lived up to. He is 6-8 with a 5.69 ERA on the season, which has been a big blow to the Tigers’ playoff hopes. Zimmermann has talent but the move to the American League has exposed him a bit.
Tanaka struggled badly earlier this season but hopes to finally be putting it together. He is 8-9 with a 5.09 ERA on the season, which is ugly. But Tanaka has been pretty solid over the past month, lowering his ERA by more than a run. He is a better pitcher than the numbers would indicate, and the Yankees should be favored in this matchup.