Game 1- Justin Verlander (2.40 ERA, 3.12 xFIP)
Game 2- Doug Fister (2.83 ERA, 3.61 xFIP)
Game 3- Max Scherzer (4.43 ERA, 3.70 xFIP)
Game 4- TBA
Game 5- TBA
Verlander Scouting Report
The 2011 season has certainly been Verlander’s year, but the difference between him and the rest of the top pitchers (including Sabathia) has been slightly exaggerated.
His xFIP of 3.12 is impressive, but he has benefited from a BABIP of .236 despite having similar batted ball rates and is 80.3 percent strand rate is a career high. Additionally, he has lowered his walk rate to a career low 2.04 BB/9 despite throwing fewer first pitch strikes and less pitches in the strike zone compared to last season.
The fact is that Verlander has always been this good of a pitcher, but his 24 wins have elevated him in the minds of most of the baseball media.
Verlander will come at the Yankees with two types of fastballs (four and two-seam) that averaged 95 mph this season, and according to pitch values on FanGraphs, it was the best fastball in the majors.
He will also employ a sharp curveball (79.3 mph), a change-up (86.4 mph) and a slider (85.9 mph) that he used at a career high 8.6 percent but won’t feature it against left-handed hitters. All three offpseed pitches are above average, and his changeup was the pitch that induced the most swings and misses.
He likes to feature his curve ball mostly after two strikes on a hitter, except when it is a full count. When the bases are empty, Verlander used his curveball 16 percent of the time, but with RISP position that rate jumps to 25.5 percent.
With the bases empty, he will use his changeup and slider more often then he would if there were runners in scoring position. The Yankees have trouble with changeups, and I would not be surprised to see more of them in the game plan on Friday.
CF Austin Jackson (.249/.317/.374 10 HR 22 SB)
RF Magglio Ordonez (.255/.303/.331 5 HR)
LF Delmon Young (.268/.302/.393 12 HR)
1B Miguel Cabrera (.344/.448/.546 30 HR)
DH Victor Martinez (.330/.380/.470 12 HR)
C Alex Avila (.295/.389/.506 19 HR)
SS Jhonny Peralta (.299/.345/.478 21 HR)
2B Ryan Raburn (.256/.297/.432 14 HR)
3B Wilson Betemit (.285/.343/.452 8 HR)
Cabrera ranked third in baseball with a wRC+ of 177 in 2011 despite having his lowest home run total since 2006. He set career bests: His walk rate (15.7 percent), and strikeout rate (12.7 percent), while still producing an ISO of .245.
Young continues to hit in the number three spot in the order despite having an ISO of .125 and a wRC+ of 92. Jim Leyland would be better served to have Martinez because of his better power numbers and higher walk rate.
Austin Jackson is the Tigers only stolen base threat, and he improved his walk rate to 8.4 percent in 2011. However, his BABIP and strikeout rate increased which caused a drop in his batting average. Avila was the best offensive catcher in baseball, and his 115 wRC+ against left-handers assures that he will be in the lineup for every game this series.
The Tigers will be without Carlos Guillen and Brennan Boesch due to injuries, so Ordonez figures to get most of the at-bats in right field while Ryan Raburn and Santiago will be handling second base.
Raburn has power (14 home runs and .176 ISO), but he struck out at a 27.3 percent rate this season. He will definitely start against left-handed pitching (118 wRC+ versus LHP). Ordonez is not the player he once was a few years ago, and his wRC+ of 72 ranks in the bottom ten of qualified hitters this season.
Wilson Betemit will play third against right-handed pitchers while Inge will start against left-handers. Betemit’s bating averaged was inflated by a .391 BABIP this season, and his strikeout rate of 29.2 percent will be a problem against the Yankees’ late inning relievers.
3B Brandon Inge (.197/.265/.283 3 HR)
C Omir Santos (.227/.227/.227 0 HR)
IF Ramon Santiago (.260/.311/.384 5 HR)
OF Andy Dirks (.251/.296/.406 7 HR 5 SB)
IF/OF Don Kelly (.245/.291/.381 7 HR)
RHP Jose Valverde
RHP Joaquin Benoit
RHP Al Alburquerque
LHP Phil Coke
LHP Daniel Schlereth
RHP Ryan Perry
RHP Brad Penny/RHP David Pauley
Valverde may have been perfect in 49 save opportunities, however his 2011 season was the worst of his career. His 8.59 K/9 was a career low, and his average fastball velocity dropped from 95.2 mph in 2010 to 93.9 mph this season.
Alburquerque and Benoit are where the Tigers bullpen can compete with the Yankees late inning relievers.Alburquerque has a strikeout rate of 13.92 K/9, but has a walk rate of 6.02 BB/9.
Benoit has a strikeout rate of 9.23 K/9, and he still generates a swinging strike rate of 13.7 percent. Both of them also have better xFIP’s against left-handed hitters.
Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth are Leyland’s primary left-handers out of the bullpen. Coke has posted xFIP of 3.65 against left-handers this season, but his overall numbers are skewed because of his innings as a starter earlier this season.
The same can be said for Schlereth as his overall numbers are inflated because of terrible work against right-handed hitters. Ryan Perry and Penny will only be used in games that have gotten out of hand. Perry has a 1.14 K/BB ratio, and his xFIP of 5.22 indicates that he has pitched as poorly as his ERA suggests.