An explanation: The Tigers swept the Yankees at Comerica Park last May, the first true sign that things weren’t right in 2021. That started a run of eight losses in 10 games and set the tone for a topsy-turvy and ultimately wildly underwhelming season.
Both teams are drastically different now as they meet again almost a year later. Detroit likely isn’t ready to make a postseason run, but they certainly could be a nuisance for a Yankees team still smarting from a series loss to the lowly Orioles.
Here is a closer look at the matchup:
Yankees (5-5) at Tigers (4-5)
Time: 6:40 p.m. ET Tuesday, Wednesday; 1:10 p.m. ET Thursday.
Probable pitching matchups (Yankees pitcher listed first):
- Tuesday: Gerrit Cole (0-0, 5.59 ERA) vs. Tyler Alexander (0-0, 5.06)
- Wednesday: Luis Severino (1-0, 2.25) vs Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.87)
- Thursday: Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 3.24) vs Tarik Skubal (0-1, 3.72)
Worth watching: Can the Yankees delay history? The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, a two-time MVP and future Hall of Famer, is five hits from 3,000. Cabrera is 39 and obviously on the decline, but he has turned back the clock so far this spring, batting .276 so far after going 0-for-21 with nine strikeouts against the Yankees last season.
Key matchup: Yankee Killer Austin Meadows is now a Tiger and is off to a strong start in the Motor City, batting .417 through his first seven games. Meadows, who was traded by the Rays this winter, has hit .267 with a .937 OPS in 44 career games against the Yankees with 14 home runs. And remember: Meadows is 26 and has only hit 70 total homers in his career.
Comerica Park is bigger than Tropicana Field and home runs will be hard to come by. Still, the Yankees would be wise to keep Meadows from putting the ball in play. His 22.5% career strikeout percentage could benefit them.
X-factor: Aaron Judge is off to a slow start amid his contract debacle. He is batting .257 with one solo home run. And this isn’t something to be expected, given Judge is a .296 career hitter in March and April. The Yankees need their lineup to wake up as a whole and a big series from Judge could be the spark for that. He’s only a .244 career hitter in Detroit, but is a .278 hitter against the Tigers in general. Judge has plenty of power to change games with one swing, big ballpark or not.
Final thoughts and prediction: It’s rare for lightning to strike twice. So don’t bet on the Tigers sweeping the Yankees at home again. New Tigers star Javy Baez was batting .316 before hurting his thumb and going on the IL. He could prove a big loss, as Detroit bats just .201 as a team. Michigan’s spring weather could also be a factor, with lots of wind expected for all three games. There won’t be a sweep on either side, but the Yankees should take care of business. Yankees take two of three.