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Detroit Tigers Series Preview: April 30 to May 2

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They say there’s no place like home, but the Yankees seemed to enjoy their road trip, going 5-3 and giving fans hope for a turnaround from the tough beginning of the season despite the frustrating #fakebaseball loss in the Baltimore series finale.  The team’s last homestand was rough, to say the least, and the Yankees must now try to carry over their road success to a 9-game home stretch beginning with a series against the Detroit Tigers.  This marks the first series in 2021 against an opponent the Yankees did not face in 2020.

Their Story So Far

The Tigers, coming into the season, were not projected to be very good — PECOTA and Fangraphs both had them finishing last — and thus far have lived up to that “hype.” They are 8-18, last place in the AL Central. They arrive at Yankee Stadium straight off the losing end of a double-header sweep by the White Sox.

Overall, the Tigers’ offense has been atrocious even in the context of a relatively low-offense season league-wide.  Their team OPS+ is 76, dead last in the majors – by seven points! – as of Friday. They have scored the fewest runs in the AL, fifteen fewer than second-to-last Cleveland (the Yankees, for reference, have the fourth-fewest runs in the league).  

The pitching has not been much better.  The Tigers have an 87 ERA+ as a team, second-worst in the AL.  Their pitching has been a one-man show with Matthew Boyd posting a 2.27 ERA/183 ERA+ over six starts.  Boyd, who left last night’s game with a knee injury, was not scheduled to face the Yankees this series regardless of his health status.

Generally, the Tigers are as the Tigers are supposed to be, and should be a decent opportunity for the Yankees to continue their turnaround. Coming into the season, one would not necessarily have projected a Yankees/Tigers matchup to feature two of the most unproductive offenses in the AL, but you know what they say about predicting baseball.

Injury Report

PLAYERPOSITION INJURY INJURY STATUS
Matthew BoydSPKneeOut until at least early May
Nomar MazaraRFAbdomenOut until at least early May
Julio TeheranSPShoulderOut until at least early June

Spotlight: Akil Baddoo

The story of the year for the Tigers thus far has probably been that of rookie Akil Baddoo.  Baddoo, the 22-year-old Rule 5 pick, didn’t play baseball in 2020 and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019.  Prior to 2021, he had spent the bulk of his professional career in A-ball, but made Detroit’s Opening Day roster after hitting .325 with 5 home runs in Spring Training.

On April 4, he hit a home run in his first Major League at bat, and followed up with a grand slam the next day. Since then, Baddoo has arguably been the brightest bright spot in the Tigers’ low-achieving lineup, posting an OPS+ of 138 through 19 games. He leads the league with three triples and has already hit four home runs.  11 of his first 14 hits went for extra bases.

Baddoo does have an extremely high strikeout rate, with 27 Ks in 60 at bats (compared to only two walks), but he has shown that he has potential to be a dynamic player that could be a thorn in the Yankees’ side this weekend.

Projected Lineup

Below is Roster Resource’s projected starting lineup for the Tigers.

  1. Robbie Grossman, LF/RF (.210/.363/.321, 102 OPS+)
  2. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (.146/.239/.317, 60 OPS+)
  3. Jeimer Candelario, 3B (.258/.321/.340, 93 OPS+)
  4. Jonathan Schoop, DH (.190/.214/.278, 42 OPS+)
  5. Willi Castro, 2B (.207/.242/.299, 56 OPS+)
  6. Akil Baddoo, RF/LF (.233/.254/.600, 138 OPS+)
  7. Wilson Ramos, C (.220/.256/.488, 109 OPS+)
  8. Niko Goodrum, SS (.200/.268/.400, 91 OPS+)
  9. JaCoby Jones, CF (.120/.137/.200, -4 OPS+)

Pitching Matchups

Tonight, 7:05 PM

LHP Tarik Skubal

Tarik Skubal is seeking his first win this season, and only the second win of his young career when he goes head to head with Gerrit Cole tonight. Skubal has only pitched in 13 games in his career – he made his debut in August of 2020 – and has decent strikeout numbers in those games, averaging 9.5 K/9.

RHP Gerrit Cole

The Cole Train has been rolling through the American League so far this season, and Yankees fans can only hope that Gerrit Cole can continue to replicate his last few performances.  His last start at Cleveland was a gem, as he threw 7 innings of 3 hit, one run ball and struck out 11.

Saturday, 1:05pm

RHP Spencer Turnbull

Spencer Turnbull has only made two starts this year, having started the season on the IL recovering from COVID. However, he has pitched reasonably well in the limited sample size, with a 3.27 ERA over 11 innings.  Despite having a career 8-24 record, Turnbull’s peripherals are decent, posting a 3.73 FIP over 46 career starts.

RHP Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon has struggled thus far in 2021, but has shown flashes of the starter the Yankees believe he can be – although he wound up taking the loss during his last start in Cleveland, he looked very sharp over his first three innings of work, and the Yankees hope he can build on that going forward.

Sunday, 1:05pm

RHP Jose Ureña

Ureña is in his first season with Detroit after spending his entire career, which began in 2015, with Miami.  He has struggled with command over 5 starts to begin 2021, averaging 4.7 BB/9.  Patience will be key for the Yankees’ lineup when facing him on Sunday.

RHP Corey Kluber

Corey Kluber appears to be rounding into form, which is great news for the Yankees. In his last start against the Orioles, he threw 6.2 innings of one-run ball and notched his first win since 2019.

Bullpen Status

PlayerTuesdayWednesdayThursday
Gregory Soto13
Brian Garcia
Jose Cisnero24
Daniel Norris
Buck Farmer19
Alex Lange26
Derek Holland14
Tyler Alexander12
Michael Fulmer47

Yesterday’s early exit by Boyd means that the Tigers’ bullpen is pretty taxed coming into Friday night, so options may be limited if Skubal can’t give them length.

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3 Comments

  1. kesheck

    LOL @ #fakebaseball. I hadn’t seen that before – good one.

  2. Stephen

    Rooting for Akil Badoo, but he’s really cooled off since his hot start. .121/.147/..303 since April 15th. Maybe the last two weeks are just a cold streak and he’s better but his pre-season prospect rankings and that he hadn’t played above High A makes me think that pitchers have been able to figure him out.

  3. Jason

    They had a game recently with an error an inning. If our 110+ mph EV guys ground out, I think we can see alot of infield hits this series.
    Akil Badoo has been fun to watch from afar(especially vs Houston).

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