New York Yankees (7-7) at Detroit Tigers (11-3)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Pinstripe Alley
Pitching Matchup: RHP Adam Warren (0-1, 4.82 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (1-0, 0.40 ERA)
We are two starts into the Adam Warren era, and things are not going so well. The 27-year-old University of North Carolina product has only worked 9 1/3 innings in his two outings, and allowed four runs in just four innings against the Tampa Bay Rays five days ago. Warren has allowed more walks (4) than strikeouts (3), and is giving up more than a hit per inning.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2009 amateur draft, Warren was a starter throughout his ascent through the Yankees' farm system. He only needed one full season to get from A-ball to Triple-A, but put up fairly pedestrian numbers in two years at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He was called up for a spot start with the Yankees in 2012, and was with the team full-time in 2013 and 2014. All but three of Warren's 104 big league appearances prior to the 2015 season came as a reliever, a role he seems well-suited for. He has a career 3.23 ERA as a reliever and has held opponents to a .698 OPS while striking out almost a batter per inning.
Despite spending the past two seasons as a reliever, Warren still has a starter's arsenal. His fastball averaged 95 miles per hour as a reliever, but he has sat in the 92-93 mile-per-hour range in his two starts this season. He uses his slider heavily, especially against right-handers, while his curveball and changeup are mostly reserved for lefties. While he doesn't induce a lofty whiff rate with any of his offspeed pitches, the slider is his go-to pitch when ahead in the count. It was the finisher on 32 of his 76 strikeouts last season, while the curveball and changeup combined for just 16.
The last time David Price faced the Yankees, things didn't go so well. He was able to work around a pair of baserunners in the first and second innings, but gave up nine consecutive hits -- nine consecutive hits -- to open the third inning. Price departed with the bases loaded and no outs, and by the time Blaine Hardy had cleaned up the mess, the Yankees were up 8-0. This was plenty of run support for then-Yankees starter Shane Greene, who cruised to his second win over the Tigers in as many starts (Adam Warren gave up a run in a relief inning).
That start skewed some otherwise excellent numbers for Price down the stretch in 2014. In his other 75 2/3 innings with the Tigers, Price gave up just 23 earned runs, a 2.75 ERA. He held opponents to less than a hit per inning, and struck out over five times as many batters as he walked. One of his victims down the stretch was this same Yankees team, which Price beat in an 8-2/3-inning, 10-strikeout performance at Yankee Stadium on August 5.
Hitter to fear: Brian McCann (.500/.533/1.143 in 15 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Brett Gardner (.136/.269/.136 in 27 plate appearances)
Price has seen plenty of the Yankees throughout his career thanks to his time spent with the Tampa Bay Rays, but it was newcomer Brian McCann that made Price's life miserable in 2014. McCann hit three home runs in 12 at-bats against Price last season, one in each of Price's first three starts against the Bronx Bombers. McCann added a pair of singles in the aforementioned meltdown outing, and is 7 for 14 in his career against Price. Lefthander Jacoby Ellsbury has had similar success, hitting .352/.375/.574 in 56 plate appearances. No righthander is hitting above .240 in 10 or more career plate appearances against Price.
Ever since they left Cleveland, the Tigers have struggled to score runs. They put up four in their first game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but have since combined for just 21 runs in their last seven games. They are somewhat fortunate to be 5-2 in that seven-game stretch, but the lack of offensive firepower is no cause for concern yet. The Tigers have faced a gauntlet of starting pitching in their last eight games, and have beaten the likes of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, and CC Sabathia already. The road doesn't get any easier with Masahiro Tanaka, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer looming on the horizon, but Warren isn't in that league. The unfamiliarity may give the Tigers some fits early on, but we should expect a bit more offense tonight.
Price conquers his Yankees demons and cruises to his second win of the season.
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