After facing only AL and NL East teams in 2020, the Yankees have started this season facing, well, mostly AL and NL East teams. Cleveland is the exception to that, but even then, the Yankees did see them in the playoffs last year. This year, for the first time since the final series of the 2019 season, the Yankees will square of with some fresh faces.
Wrapping up an eight-game road trip yesterday, the Yankees are returning home for a three-game set against the Tigers starting today. Firmly in the middle of a rebuilding period, Detroit is well under .500 coming into this season. They were actually right at .500 through the first two weeks of the season, but since then, they’ve had two separate losing streaks of five games, sinking them towards the bottom of the American League standings.
On the offensive side of things, they don’t have a ton of bright spots other than rookie Akil Baddoo, who has 11 extra-base hits out of 14 total on the young season. Their best pitcher has been Matthew Boyd, but the Yankees are likely to miss him in this series. This set represents a decent chance for the Yankees to win some games, but as we’ve seen so far this season, things don’t always go to plan. Oh, and a certain former Astros manager will be in Detroit’s dugout.
Before things kick off tonight, here’s a look at the three pitching matchups we’re scheduled to see.
Friday: Gerrit Cole vs. Tarik Skubal
Cole has been great all season, but his most recent outing may have been his best so far. With basically no room for error facing Shane Bieber, he held Cleveland to just one run on three hits while striking out 11 in seven innings. The last time he faced Detroit back in 2019, he shut them out for seven innings, allowing just two hits and striking out 12.
A top-100 prospect, Skubal hasn’t lit the league up yet so far, with a career 5.47 ERA and a 6.13 FIP. His most recent appearance came out of the bullpen, and he gave up two runs in 2.2 innings to the Royals.
Saturday: Jameson Taillon vs. Spencer Turnbull
In his most recent start, Taillon was very sharp for the first three innings, allowing just one base runner while striking out four. Then it all came crashing down in the fourth inning, leaving his overall season numbers looking less than stellar. A start against a Tigers team that isn’t exactly lighting things up offensively is a decent opportunity for him to try and get things back on track.
Turnbull made his 2021 debut back on April 21st and has put up solid numbers in his two starts so far. However, the Yankees hit him pretty decently when the faced him back in September 2019, knocking him out after four runs in five innings.
Sunday: Corey Kluber vs. José Ureña
Kluber had by far his best start as a Yankee in his most recent appearance, allowing just one run in 6.2 innings against Baltimore. Now he faces an old AL Central division foe. Over his career, Kluber’s been pretty good against the Tigers (113 tOPS+), albeit this is a very different Detroit team than the one he faced in most of those matchups.
Over his last three games, Ureña has been good, allowing two or fewer earned runs in seven innings all three times. This is his first season in Detroit, having previously played for the Marlins, where he held the Yankees in check in the 8.1 innings he faced them.