Detroit Tigers (62-49) at New York Yankees (59-54)
Time/Place: 1:05 p.m., Yankee Stadium
SB Nation blog: Pinstripe Alley
Pitching Matchup: RHP Rick Porcello (13-5, 3.18 ERA) vs. RHP Shane Greene (2-1, 3.68 ERA)
You can laugh about the fact that a team with a $200 million payroll is using a dude named Shane Greene as one of their starters, but the 25 year old right-hander hasn't been half bad so far. He had a rough debut in April, allowing three walks and three unearned runs in just one-third of an inning in relief, but returned with something to prove after a short demotion to the minors. Greene has won two of his three decisions since joining the Yankees' rotation in early July, allowing a 3.72 ERA in 29 innings of work. He has a solid 23:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio during this stretch, though a fair number of those came in a dominating performance against the first-place Baltimore Orioles on July 12th. Greene held the O's scoreless through 7 1/3 innings while striking out nine, leading the New York Daily News to dub him the "Yankees' only hope."
He also did this, so maybe we should temper expectations a bit.
Greene's command has been fine through five major league starts, but it has gotten the better of him at times in the minor leagues. He had three separate outings with four walks or more with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in May and June, and has walked a total of 36 batters in 95 2/3 innings this season. He has also allowed plenty of runners to reach base at all levels. The last time Greene held opponents to under a hit per inning was way back in Single-A ball in 2010. Things have been better at the major league level so far, but he has given up 14 hits (and six runs) in his last two starts.
Rick Porcello dazzled on BYB meet-up day, allowing two runs in eight innings while striking out 10. While his ERA didn't fall much, his 10 strikeouts (to two walks) took a sizeable chunk out of his FIP and SIERA. Those figures were 3.78 and 3.98, respectively, at this time last week. He got a whopping 16 swings and misses on 108 pitches, a solid 14.8 percent whiff rate. For reference, Porcello doesn't have that high of a whiff rate on any of his individual pitches this season. However, this was the fourth start in a row that Porcello posted a whiff rate above 10 percent. He has 24 strikeouts to just five walks in 29 innings since getting throttled by the Tampa Bay Rays -- led by now teammate David Price -- on July 6th.
Hitter to fear: Jacoby Ellsbury (.700/.727/1.400 in 11 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Derek Jeter (.111/.111/.167 in 18 plate appearances)
Holy hell, Jacoby. Ellsbury has seven hits in 10 career at-bats against Porcello, including a double and a pair of home runs. One of those dingers came in that 20-4 drubbing that the Boston Red Sox put on Porcello and the Tigers last season. Things haven't gotten much better for the Tigers' right-hander at Yankee Stadium either. Porcello has allowed nine earned runs in just 10 innings at the park, and has a career 4.69 ERA overall against the Yankees. Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner have joined in on the fun as well, hitting .360 and .308, respectively.
The Tigers would love to get a win against a rookie pitcher and a ragged Yankees' lineup -- they had scored just six runs in 27 innings prior to last night's eighth inning -- but things don't always go their way in New York. They are 4-12 in regular season games at Yankee Stadium since 2009 and haven't won a series in the Bronx since 2008 (go figure). Ironically, the Tigers' offense has done them in this time around despite ranking in the top five in baseball in batting average, slugging average, OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ away from home.
Porcello keeps rolling and the Tigers split the series.
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