Detroit Tigers (62-48) at New York Yankees (58-54)
Time/Place: 7:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium
SB Nation blog: Pinstripe Alley
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Justin Verlander (10-9, 4.66 ERA) vs. LHP Chris Capuano (1-2, 4.50 ERA)
Chris Capuano started the season with the Boston Red Sox, serving as a jack-of-all-trades out of their bullpen. He entered games as early as the fifth and as late as the 12th inning for the Sox, allowing a 4.55 ERA and a 4.05 FIP in 31 2/3 innings. He wasn't used as a LOOGY, facing roughly 60 percent right-handed batters, but he still allowed lefties to hit .306/.342/.472 in 79 plate appearances. This goes against his career numbers, as lefties have a meager .632 OPS against him in his 10 big league seasons.
Capuano didn't go directly from the Red Sox to the Yankees, but it was a quick transition. He was released by the Sox on July 1st, then signed with the Colorado Rockies on July 4th. Capuano didn't make any major league appearances with the Rockies, but allowed a 2.79 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in four minor league starts. The Yankees were apparently paying attention, as they purchased him from the Rockies just three days after he struck out 11 in a Triple A start. Capuano joined the Yankees' rotation almost immediately, where he has allowed six runs in his first 12 1/3 innings. Four of those runs came in his last start, a 6 1/3 inning effort against his former teammates at Fenway Park.
Justin Verlander looked a little shaky through the first few innings of his last start, but settled down to have his best outing of the season. He allowed two runs on eight hits in eight innings, striking out five without a walk. Even more encouraging was the fact that the runs were scored on a trio of seeing-eye singles and a should-be error when Nick Castellanos had Brandon Barnes dead to rights at home plate on a routine ground ball. Castellanos threw high and Barnes snuck under Bryan Holaday's tag. Verlander was not laboring at any point during his start -- even the two-run seventh inning took just 23 pitches -- and did not allow a runner to reach third base in any inning besides the seventh.
Hitter to fear: Derek Jeter (.364/.429/.455 in 49 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Mark Teixeira (.079/.182/.158 in 44 plate appearances)
The endless love that Derek Jeter gets from the national media may be irritating to some, but the numbers he has put up in his career are no joke. Those big numbers haven't escaped Justin Verlander, as he has allowed an .883 OPS to the Captain in 49 plate appearances. Other than Jeter, however, not many of the current Yankees have given him trouble. Ichiro Suzuki has a .308 batting average in 67 plate appearances, but is just 3 for 21 since 2011. Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Stephen Drew, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann are all hitting under .250 in their careers against Verlander.
While Verlander's velocity fell in five July starts, his whiff rate is slowly climbing towards career levels. He has a 9.1 percent whiff rate in his last four starts, including a whopping nine swings and misses on his fastball in his last start. The dip in velocity may be by design (again), as Verlander was still able to dial the heater up to 97.4 miles per hour in his last start. Fortunately, Verlander may not need to be at his best tonight. The Tigers have handled left-handed pitching well all season long, especially during their previous series. In three games against the Rockies, the Tigers scored 15 runs in 16 1/3 innings against the Rockies' three left-handed starters.
The offense picks up a struggling Verlander and the Tigers win their second game in a row.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting daily $18,000 Fantasy Baseball leagues. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Click here for details.