Nine Things We Learned from the Tigers-Yankees Weekend Series

Steven Goldman@GoStevenGoldmanMLB Lead BloggerApril 30, 2012

Justin Verlander: Bang, bang, my baby shot me down.
Justin Verlander: Bang, bang, my baby shot me down.Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Game 1: Yankees 7, Tigers 6

We learned that Justin Verlander is fallible, particularly when pitching in a ballpark which loves being tickled by baseballs that have been hit to right-center field—both Alex Rodriguez and Russell Martin’s shots were heading in that direction when last seen.

We also learned that the Yankees bullpen can carry the team after the starter has failed—and also that the Yankees are darned lucky to win a game when Ivan Nova fails. As we shall see, CC Sabathia turned in a good start later in the weekend, but that still leaves the rotation about two deep at the moment.

Game 2: Tigers 7, Yankees 5

This one was over before it began, and if we didn’t learn anything, the Yankees sure did, and that was that Freddy Garcia may not be able to pitch anymore. Sending him to the bullpen is an interesting move in that there really isn’t any important work for him to do out there, and why would you trust him anyway?

For the second game in a row, the Tigers bullpen was shaky, while the Yankees pen allowed just one run in 7.1 innings. David Phelps’ three hitless innings earned him Garcia’s spot in the rotation. Phelps isn’t going to be a Cy Young candidate, but an ERA below Garcia’s 12.51 should be within his powers.

Nick Swisher hit two home runs in this game, raising his averages to .288/.352/.625. He has always been an underrated hitter, but right now he's a key performer for the Yankees and in the AL as a whole. Too bad he got hurt the next game.

Game 3: Yankees 6, Tigers 2

CC Sabathia had been getting the strikeouts this season, but he’d also been giving up the home runs, and with a 5.27 ERA heading into this start, you had to worry that his heavy workload and just general heavy was finally catching up to him. He gave up another home run in this game, but otherwise was vintage CC, allowing only two runs on four hits while striking out eight.

Curtis Granderson hit his second home run of the series and eighth overall of the season, and it seems safe to assume that last season’s power surge wasn’t a one-time thing. David Robertson pitched his 10th scoreless inning of the season, and it seems as if his incredible “Houdini” season of last year wasn’t a one-off either.

Oh… We also learned that Max Scherzer is really, really lost. He has always been inconsistent, but until Sunday he had control, with just six walks in 19.2 innings.

Now, there isn’t anything you can count on.

The List

No three-game series proves anything—not even a postseason series or one that might reasonably categorized as a postseason preview. Still, the key takeaways for now:

  1. Justin Verlander, and by extension any pitcher, is vulnerable when placed in the wrong environment.
  2. Freddy Garcia: Can’t pitch. This was indicated last fall, but sometimes you just have to see for yourself.
  3. Tigers bullpen gave up nine runs in 8.2 innings. Not good.
  4. Yankees pen gave up one run in 12 innings. Very good, though (warning light) that’s a lot of pitching.
  5. Curtis Granderson: Power, c'est him.
  6. CC Sabathia: Okay for now.
  7. David Phelps: The Phelps is all right.
  8. Max Scherzer: Gone fishing?
  9. The Yankees will miss Nick Swisher.