DETROIT TIGERS (61-47)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (57-53)
First pitch: Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -120, New York +110, Total: 7.5
Two teams that made a wealth of trade deadline moves, the Tigers and Yankees, start a four-game series in the Bronx on Monday night.
Detroit has grabbed a five-game lead in the AL Central and comes into this series with four wins in the past five contests. The Tigers didn’t hold back at all against the Rockies over the weekend, sweeping the three-game set while outscoring the normally potent Colorado offense 19-7. Starter Anibal Sanchez had 12 strikeouts and zero walks, while giving up just two hits in seven scoreless innings in Sunday’s 4-0 win, as DH Victor Martinez (.321 BA) provided most of the offense with his 23rd homer of the year. He has been hot all season long and was 4-for-11 with two homers, 7 RBI and two runs against the Rockies. New York currently sits five games behind the Orioles for first place in the AL East and have gone 10-6 since the All-Star break. The Yanks were able to grab 2-of-3 games this weekend against the Red Sox, which included a wild 8-7 victory on Sunday night. OF Brett Gardner (.284 BA) hit the go-ahead home run in the sixth inning and has found his power stroke of late, going 11-for-23 (.478) with three doubles, five homers, 7 RBI and eight runs over the past six contests. Two veterans will get the start in this one, as stud RHP Max Scherzer (13-3, 3.27 ERA), the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, goes up against lanky RHP Brandon McCarthy (6-10, 4.56 ERA) for the Yankees. Detroit has been a tremendous team on the road this year, going 31-20 (.608, best in majors), while New York is 25-26 (.490, 21st in MLB) when playing at home. These two clubs have yet to face each other this season, but have clashed head-to-head 20 times in the previous two years with the Tigers holding an 11-9 edge overall while splitting the eight games played in the Bronx. Over the past two seasons, McCarthy’s teams have gone just 4-12 when he starts at home and the total is between 7 and 8.5. Meanwhile, Detroit is a subpar 24-27 (.471) as a favorite of -125 to -175 this year. There are no major injuries to the Tigers lineup going into this game while the Yankees are without plenty of starting pitchers, but are healthy on offense.
Max Scherzer has done a great job proving that his Cy Young Award in 2013 was no fluke, as he leads the AL in wins (13) and is fifth in strikeouts (167). Making batters look silly has always been his calling card as he is whiffing 10.3 batters per nine innings this year and has harnessed his control with a fairly low walk rate (2.5 BB/9 in 2014). Scherzer has not suffered a loss since June 17th and has since gone 5-0 (6-1 team record) with a 2.08 ERA. In that time, he has also struck out 56 batters while walking just 12 in 47.2 innings of work. The Yanks have never given him any issues in the past, and he is 6-1 against them with a 3.12 ERA (1.29 WHIP) while allowing one or fewer runs in four of his seven outings. OF Jacoby Ellsbury has had the most success among his teammates against the reining Cy Young Award winner, going 5-for-9 with a home run and 5 RBI. On the other hand, 2B Stephen Drew, OF Brett Gardner, C Brian McCann and 1B Mark Teixeira have combined to go a meager 5-for-38 (.132) with 14 strikeouts in the matchup. Detroit’s bullpen is 11-14 with a 4.55 ERA and 1.47 WHIP this year while saving 27-of-37 games (73%). Joe Nathan (5.45 ERA, 22 saves) has been shaky in the closer's role all season long, but has been great in his past five outings with three saves, two hits allowed and an 8:1 K/BB ratio over five innings.
Brandon McCarthy was grabbed by New York due to his underlying numbers, which suggested that he was pitching much better than most could see from the outside. The team has seemingly made a great decision, as he is 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in his four starts with the Yankees. Since 2011, McCarthy has shown amazing control, walking less than two batters per nine innings, including a mere four walks issued in his four starts (24.2 IP) with New York. He also has the 10th best ground-ball percentage in the league (54.3%) and is tallying a career-high strikeout rate of 7.6 K/9. McCarthy has had a solid career against the Tigers, going 2-3 (5-4 team record) with a 3.28 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He was amazing the last time he faced them in 2012, as he earned a win after seven scoreless innings where he allowed four hits while striking out 10. OF Torii Hunter (8-for-16, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 2 RBI) and DH Victor Martinez (7-for-21, 4 doubles, 1 HR, 2 RBI) have always had great success against McCarthy, while C Alex Avila has gone just 2-for-11 with two strikeouts in the matchup. New York’s relievers have gone 16-19 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.27 WHIP this season, and are 37-for-50 (74%) in save opportunities. Closer David Robertson (2.74 ERA, 29 saves) has blown just two saves this season and has struck out 14.6 batters per nine innings on the year.