The Yankees wrap up their homestand with a four-game set with the Tigers. The Yankees won their only meeting in April, as the last two games of the series were rescheduled in June (the teams split in a doubleheader).
This series could potentially feature the return of Gary Sanchez. Whether it be this weekend or next week in Oakland, the lineup and defense desperately needs Sanchez back in the lineup.
Despite all the injuries, the Yankees have played some solid baseball of late and have at least filled up the voids temporarily. Although they lost two of three against the White Sox earlier this week, the Yankees are 16-7 since getting swept by Boston and 9-3 in their last 12 games.
The Tigers have had a rough August (seven wins in 25 games, current five-game losing streak), although they still sit in third place in the feeble AL Central at 53-80. Most recently, they lost three out of four to the White Sox before getting swept by the Royals.
Game 1: JA Happ vs Fransisco Liriano
Happ (15-6, 3.80 ERA) has been everything the Yankees traded for and more in his first five starts wearing pinstripes. He owns a 2.37 ERA and has allowed more than two earned runs in just one of those five outings. On average, he goes just over six innings — a huge upgrade over the combination of Luis Cessa and Domingo German.
Aided by a ton of run support, Happ threw six innings of two-run ball against the Orioles in his previous outing at Camden Yards. He struck out nine and allowed just five hits, improving to a perfect 5-0 since being shipped to the Bronx.
In 10 appearances (nine starts) against the Tigers, the southpaw is 3-2 with a 4.83 ERA. Earlier this season, Happ gave up four runs in five innings and seven runs across 5.2 innings in two outings against Detroit.
The month of August has not been kind to Liriano (3-9, 4.82 ERA). He owns a 6.88 ERA in four starts and opponents are hitting to a 1.022 OPS. The lefty has allowed a home run in each start while averaging under five innings per outing.
Against the Yankees, however, Liriano has been historically successful. In 12 appearances (10 starts), he owns a 3.34 ERA in 59.1 innings. He held them to two runs over five innings in a start with the Blue Jays last season.
Game 2: Luis Severino vs Jordan Zimmerman
Severino (17-6, 3.27 ERA) continues to take baby steps in returning to his first-half form, as he held the Orioles to three runs (two earned) in 5.2 innings in his last start. Aaron Boone raved about his fastball, saying it looked like his first-half stuff.
Although Severino has gone past six innings just once since July 1 and has allowed over one home run per start in that stretch, he still has a month to return to form, and some improvement is better than nothing. The positive thing is, Sevy dominates the Tigers. He’s got a 2.19 career ERA in four starts and allowed just one earned run over eight innings to them earlier in the season.
Zimmerman (6-6, 4.38 ERA) lowered his ERA to 3.51 after pitching eight innings of one-run ball to the Rangers on July 6. Roughly two months later, that number has swelled nearly a run, as he’s pitched to a 5.48 ERA in his last eight starts.
Zimmerman has been an inconsistent arm, but when he’s on, it is tough to beat him. Two starts ago, he held the Cubs to one run over six innings. On the other hand, his last start ended allowing five runs in six innings to the White Sox. Against teams with a .500+ winning percentage, he has a 3.12 ERA in seven starts this season. Similarly, Zimmerman boasts a 3.09 ERA in five starts against the Yankees.
Game 3: Masahiro Tanaka vs TBD
After an utterly dominant July performance, Tanaka (9-5, 3.97 ERA) has cooled off a bit in August. He’s got a 4.40 ERA for the month, but a six-run outing against the Rangers makes that stat seems worse than it is. He’s still done his job and given the Yankees a chance to win in his starts.
What’s been most encouraging recently is Tanaka’s ability to prevent the long ball. Taking the Rangers start out of the equation, he’s allowed four home runs in the last two months. Facing the Tigers, he is 1-3 with a 4.40 ERA in five starts.
Game 4: Lance Lynn vs Matthew Boyd
After two lackluster outings, Lynn (8-9, 4.84 ERA) looked good against the White Sox in his last start. His line (5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 5 K) didn’t really reflect how well he pitched. Lynn ran into trouble in the sixth and was pulled having allowed one run. Jonathan Holder just didn’t do his job and allowed two inherited runners to score.
The most interesting stat about Lynn since he joined the Yankees: his ERA is 3.98 but his FIP is just 2.02. This suggests that he is pitching much better than his traditional stats indicate. Additionally, he’s been successful against the Tigers in his career, posting a 3.16 ERA in four starts.
Boyd (8-12, 4.22 ERA) was throwing well through mid-June (4-4, 3.23 ERA). Then his ERA rose a full run in a span of three starts, and it’s stayed in the low four’s since. In his most recent outing, he got tagged for five runs in six innings against the Royals. Against the Yankees, Boyd is 0-2 with a 9.35 ERA in two starts.
The Yankees need to create some momentum, and the return of Sanchez could potentially light a spark. The Bombers should be able to take care of another sub-.500 team in preparation for an important road trip next week.