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Game 132 Preview: Yankees at Tigers

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These aren't the New York Yankees of five years ago, but Kyle Lobstein will still face a daunting lineup in his first career start this afternoon.

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees (69-62) at Detroit Tigers (71-60)

Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation blog: Pinstripe Alley

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB Network, MLB.TVTigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (9-8, 3.94 ERA) vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein (0-0, 4.76 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
Kuroda 26 160.0 6.08 1.91 0.90 1.20 3.83 3.95 2.5
Price 27 201.1 9.88 1.30 1.03 1.00 2.93 2.65 4.6

The Tigers were unable to solve Hiroki Kuroda in their previous meeting this season, scoring three runs in seven innings despite having a few opportunities. They plated a run in the first inning and looked to be making solid contact, but then Kuroda was able to retire 15 of the 16 batters he faced in innings two through six. The lone hit? A home run into the Yankee Stadium jet stream off the bat of Andrew Romine. The Tigers were once again able to threaten in the seventh, but Kuroda wiggled out of trouble having allowed just one run. Had the Tigers been able to capitalize on another chance or two, this could have been a very different outing for Kuroda.

That seems to be how Kuroda's 2014 season has gone, though not always in his favor. His strikeout rate is down slightly, but WHIP, FIP, and BABIP are nearly identical to the numbers he has put up over the past couple seasons. The big change? A 68.3 percent strand rate, down from the 75+ percent he has posted in each of the past three years. Here's the thing, though. Opposing batters have a lower batting average, slugging average, and OPS with runners in scoring position than they do with nobody on base. Yet, Kuroda's ERA is over a half run higher this year than in any of his past four seasons. He isn't getting hosed by his bullpen either. Kuroda has bequeathed 19 runners to the Yankees pen in 2014 and four have scored (must be nice). Last year? Eighteen and five. I'm officially stumped on this one.

Kyle Lobstein was drafted out of high school by the Tampa Bay Rays in the second round of the 2008 draft. He put up some middling numbers in the low minors in the Rays' system, leading them to leave him unprotected in the 2012 Rule 5 draft. The Tigers picked him up (via the New York Mets' slot) and he has spent the past two years in the Detroit system. This playing time has primarily occurred at Triple-A Toledo, where Lobstein has 38 starts and 218 1/3 innings under his belt. He is sporting a 3.87 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP, with a 2.87 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He won't light up the radar gun -- his fastball topped out at 92 miles per hour in his outing last weekend -- but he has a four pitch arsenal that can be effective on a good day.

Tigers hitter to fear: Miguel Cabrera (.400/.400/.867 in 15 plate appearances)
Tigers hitter to fail: Torii Hunter (.000/.091/.000 in 11 plate appearances)

Outlook

The Tigers' parade of new fifth starters has to end at some point, right? Lobstein was less horrible than his peers in his relief appearance over the weekend, but still walked four batters in 5 2/3 innings. He will need to locate his change-up better against the Yankees' right-handers. He was able to generate a few swings and misses with the pitch on Saturday, but only threw 10 of 22 change-ups for strikes. Another solid outing of five or six innings in length would make for a nice first start, but a win -- no matter how ugly -- would be even sweeter.

Prediction

The Tigers offense gets in gear behind Lobstein to deliever the lefty his first career win.

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