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New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers: Series Preview

The Yankees look to take advantage of a Tigers team that hasn’t met preseason expectations.

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Riding the high of a three-game sweep of the Angels and the best record in baseball at 36-15, the Yankees will host a three-game set this weekend against the Tigers. After signing Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Báez to bolster a young core, there was reasonable hope for Detroit to take another step forward after jumping in winning percentage from .292 in 2019 to .397 in 2020 and .475 in 2021. Could they actually compete for an AL Central crown? Probably not, but you could squint and maybe see a Wild Card contender if everything went well.

Alas, the Tigers got off to a 9-23 start — a stretch that included losing two out of three in Detroit to the Yankees at the start of New York’s dominant 31-10 post-Easter run. Since that mid-May nadir, manager A.J. Hinch has the Tigers playing a little better at 12-7, though that was almost entirely against AL Central foes. The Rays swept them at Tropicana Field from May 16-18, and the Yankees have to be expecting that they’ll come up with a similarly successful homestand against Detroit. At the very least, New York will have the pitching matchup advantage in each game.

DraftKings series odds: Yankees win (-425); Tigers win (+310)

Friday: Gerrit Cole vs. Elvin Rodriguez (7:05 PM ET)

Right off the bat, the Tigers must contend with Cole. It’s been strange to see the understood Yankees ace fly under the radar as teammates Nestor Cortes and Jameson Taillon have compiled better seasons thus far. The funny thing is that Cole has, of course, still been excellent, particularly since an odd April 19th blowup against these same Tigers. Over his last seven starts, he has a 2.33 ERA, 1.91 FIP, and 60 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. He’ll be fine.

Originally signed by the Angels’ organization, Rodriguez was sent to the Tigers as a player to be named later in the 2017 Justin Upton trade. Since those teenage days, he’s worked his way up through the organization and finally made the MLB roster for Opening Day 2022. He got smoked by the White Sox during his debut in relief on April 10th and was demoted to find more regular time in the Triple-A Toledo rotation. With Eduardo Rodriguez injured, the younger E-Rod returned with five innings of four-run ball in Minnesota on May 23rd, and he fared better last time out with four shutout innings against the Guardians before departing with cramping. Rodriguez’s fastball has good spin, but he’ll have a tough task ahead of him trying to tame the 2022 Yankees in just his third career start.

Saturday: Luis Severino vs. Beau Brieske (1:05 PM ET)

Severino has technically been the Yankees’ weakest starter in 2022, but other teams would kill for their No. 5 pitcher to have a 3.38 ERA, 3.98 FIP, and 1.104 WHIP. He’s been doing this in his first season as a regular starter since 2018, too. Severino has done particularly nice work recently, and between May 10th and 29th, he had a stretch of allowing just 3 runs in his last 21.2 innings of work. Poor relief by Ron Marinaccio on Sunday threw a wrench in that effort, but the Yankees still have a lot of confidence in Sevy right now.

Once a 27th-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Brieske has made an impressive ascent, and he was given a chance in the Detroit rotation back in April when the highly-touted Casey Mize and Matt Manning went down. His first attempt at the MLB level has not gone well though, as he’s pitched to a 5.25 ERA and 6.70 FIP in 36 innings, coughing up 10 homers already. Old friends Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela both took the righty deep his last time out, as did Jose Miranda. The Yankees don’t have much of an excuse if they don’t hit him early and often.

Sunday: Jordan Montgomery vs. Rony García (11:35 AM ET)

No, your eyes do not deceive you; the Yankees have an early first pitch because this is one of the Peacock-exclusive Sunday morning games. So grab some coffee or tea, sit back, and watch Montgomery take the mound. He dominated the Angels on Tuesday with seven innings of one-run ball, his longest start since May 21, 2021. The offense scored some runs for Monty for a change, and Lady Luck finally granted him his first win of 2022. Ignore that won/loss record though, as Yankees fans know just how good he’s been this year, notching one of the league’s best groundball (46.2 percent) and walk rates (4.2 percent) while pitching to a 3.04 ERA.

A former Yankees farmhand claimed by Detroit in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft, García has only begun to nail down a spot on the Tigers’ roster this year. After posting a 2.57 ERA and .488 OPS against out of bullpen in his first eight games, Hinch bumped the 24-year-old right-hander up to the Tigers’ rotation on May 25th. Both of García’s two starts have come against the Twins, and while he’s fanned 12 batters in in 9 innings, the plentiful K’s were accompanied by 8 runs on 10 hits and 3 walks. He ranks in MLB’s absolute lowest percentile in hard-hit rate, barrel rate, and average exit velocity. Again, this is a highly-favorable matchup for New York.