Game 20 Preview: Tigers at Yankees

Apr. 15, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova pitches during the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (10-9) at New York Yankees (10-8)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Yankee Stadium

SB Nation Blog: Pinstripe Alley

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB Network, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Justin Verlander (2-1, 1.72 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (3-0, 3.79 ERA)

Nova might be the only Yankees pitcher in recent memory that actually works quickly. His fastball is averaging 93 mph this season, with a slider at 86-87, changeup at 85, and a big curveball in the low 80s. Statistically speaking, he has been pitching way over his head this season. In his three starts this season, he's striking out nearly 4 more batters per 9 innings. He's also walking less than one hitter per 9 innings after having a BB/9 of 3.10 last season. Nova has been homer-prone as well, giving up 4 in just 19 innings so far this year.

The last time that Verlander took the mound, the Tigers were on a 2-game losing streak, having been outscored 20-7 in those two games by the Texas Rangers. This time around, the losing streak is at 4 and the run discrepancy is 24-11. Verlander needs to be the stopper again this evening, plain and simple.

General Overgeneralizations

The Yankees have scored the 3rd most runs in baseball, and have played one less game than the top two offenses (Texas and Atlanta). Their pitching staff is the complete opposite, ranking among the worst teams in Major League Baseball in nearly every statistical category. Needless to say, there could be quite a bit of offense in the Bronx this weekend.

Outlook

It's very important for the Tigers to get an early lead today. In Nova's last start, YES announcer Michael Kay reported that in his last 30 starts, Nova is 19-1 when he pitches at any point with a lead, and the Yankees are 25-5. Those numbers went to 31 starts, 20-1, and 26-5 when Nova pitched 6 innings and gave up 2 runs. Luckily for the Tigers, Nova is a better pitcher on the road. If this isn't prime time for a Tigers offensive resurgence, I don't know what is.

Prediction

Verlander makes an early case for the 2012 MVP award (hey, it could happen) with another bullpen-saving performance.

Gameday Reading:

Performers of the Week: Week 3 - Pinstripe Alley, Frank Campagnola
The Yankees' stars are starting to get hot at the wrong time (from our perspective, that is).

Michael Pineda Diagnosed With Torn Labrum, Surgery Scheduled for May 1st. - Pinstripe Alley
"Pineda is expected to miss a full year of time while recovering from the arthroscopic procedure, Brian Cashman told reporters. The Yankees are targeting May 1, 2013 for Pineda to be back on a big league mound." Rehashed from yesterday's links.

The people in my section - It's About The Money
Obligatory link because we're playing the Yankees. This post cracks me up every time I read it.

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