Two of the top teams in the American League get set for a critical 4-game series at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan this week, as the Detroit Tigers (58-50, 31-21 home) host the New York Yankees (63-44, 29-22 away) in Game 1 starting at 7:00 PM ET tonight. With Detroit seeking a 5th consecutive victory overall and 9th straight at home, the red-hot Tigers will be itching to get back at the Yankees, who have beaten them 5 straight times when their ace pitcher Justin Verlander takes the mound.
Verlander (11-7, 2.63 ERA), tonight’s starting pitcher for the Tigers, has certainly not had the same type of success against the Yankees as he has against the rest of the American League teams, however at home is his best place to pitch, and there’s little doubt tonight that he won’t be focused on earning his Tigers a victory to help them possibly pull within a ½ game of the AL Central leading Chicago White Sox. While Verlander has struggled in 12 ½ innings pitched against New York this season, giving up 4 runs in a 7-6 loss on April 27th, and 3 runs in a 5-1 loss at home on June 3rd, he’s due to pick up the pace at home where he’s otherwise been outstanding this year with a 5-2 record and a 1.68 ERA over 9 starts. Opponents are batting just .163 off him at Comerica Park, although New York has mustered a .314 average against him in two starts this season, with 4 home runs and 10 runs in total leveraged against him. By far, the Yankees are Verlander’s biggest nemesis to contend with, and tonight he’ll have to get over history in order to bounce back from two straight losses, and avoid getting handed a third straight by the Yankees, who have already sent him to a third straight loss in a row in early June.
For the Yankees, Ivan Nova (10-5, 4.53 ERA) will look to bounce back from his most embarrassing performance of the season, coming off an 11-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in which he gave up 9 runs on 10 hits in 5 innings of work. After pitching very well in June, Nova slumped a bit in July, going 1-3 with a 5.97 ERA. Interestingly enough, his two poor starts in July both came at home, giving up 15 runs in 11 innings of work, but on the road over 4 starts he only allowed more than 2 runs one time. Things get even more interesting to consider for Ivan Nova, when you break down his performance this season at home and away. At home, Nova has been dreadful, posting a 3-4 record with a 6.16 ERA over 9 starts while opponents have hit .302 off him. On the road however, he’s been borderline sensational in posting a 7-1 record with a 3.32 ERA while opponents are hitting .269 off him. However, in his lone start against Detroit this season (at home at Yankee stadium) the second year pitcher was dinged for 6 runs in 5 1/3 innings of work, giving up 11 hits and 3 walks in the process. New York still managed a 7-6 win out of that effort, but there’s little question that with Verlander in opposition, another 10+ hit allowance by Nova is not going to bode well for the visiting Yankees here tonight.
The hot bats in action this evening for the Detroit Tigers starts with Austin Jackson (.322, 11 home runs, 49 RBIs) who is on a tear currently, hitting .389 in August and .417 against the Yankees. Jackson is hitting .329 at home and is 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs against Nova so far this season. Another big threat to the Yankees tonight will be Miguel Cabrera (.325, 27 home runs, 91 RBIs) who comes off a 2-for-4 night with a 2-run blast and 3 RBIs against Cleveland. Cabrera is also hot for the month going 7-for-18 for August thus far, and has hit Yankee pitching to the tune of .348 with 3 homers this season. For the Yankees on the other hand, Derek Jeter will be the man to watch out for. With a .344 career batting average against Verlander and with him batting .440 over the past week, Jeter should be one of the main contributors at the plate tonight. Another veteran hitter to keep in mind is Ichiro Suzuki, who has a 12-game hitting streak since joining the Yankees. Batting .333 lifetime against Verlander, Suzuki could contribute tonight by getting his first multi-hit game for his new club, against a very tough pitcher. Keep an eye out also for Robinson Cano, who while not having great success against Verlander (5-for-27), has been hitting .438 for the month thus far, and has 3 multi-hit games in his last 4 starts. It could be high-time for Cano to bust out against Verlander, and Detroit, who he’s hitting just .208 against this season.
Betting lines for the New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers at Betonline Sportsbook.
With Justin Verlander on the mound at home to start the 4-game series with New York, the Tigers get the nod as favorites to win straight up on the money line, getting -178 odds while the Yankees are big +168 underdogs. Detroit is leading the majors since July 4th with a 14-1 home record, and with Ivan Nova just 0-2 with a 7.54 ERA in his last 4 starts, so betting towards the Tigers and Verlander to pick up their 5th straight win is going to be the main position for sports fans tonight.
Against the spread, the Tigers will need to cover 1 ½ runs as favorites, giving +110 odds to those backing the home team tonight. For New York, they’ll need to stay within 1 ½ runs as underdogs, to earn pickers -130 odds. The last and only match-up between these two pitchers ended in a 7-6 win for the Yankees, but based on the way Nova has been pitching (his own manager said he had ‘no fastball command, inconsistent slider, inconsistent curveball’ after his last outing), we’re awfully tempted to take the Detroit bats to help Verlander with a couple runs of cushion.
For the total runs tonight, the over/under stands at a modest 8, with the under pickers getting -115 odds and over pickers getting slightly better -105 odds. During their 4-game winning streak, the Tigers have pushed the over mark in 3 of those games, and 4 out of the last 5 Detroit wins at home have gone over the total runs line as well. However, in a critical match-up where both pitchers are at their best (Verlander at home Nova away), look for this game to feature very few runs from the get-go, and a very good chance that the under bet is the way to go here tonight.