Justin Verlander Matchups to Watch
Of the eight Yankees who have had at least 10 regular-season and postseason at-bats against Verlander, the only one with better than a .200 batting average against him is Derek Jeter (.364).
We'll get to Jeter in a moment, but one of the most interesting matchups in this game among those Verlander does well against, will be Verlander vs Nick Swisher.
Including postseason, Swisher is 2-for-his-last 31 against Verlander. He was 0-for-5 against Verlander in the 2011 regular season and then 0-for-4 against him in the playoffs.
Swisher put five balls in play against Verlander last season. The four that he hit in the air all shared a common bond-- lazy balls in the air along the third base or left field line.
The other Yankee against whom Verlander has a good history is Mark Teixeira (3-for-26 vs Verlander), though Teixeira had two hits, including an Opening Day home run against Verlander last season.
Ivan Nova Matchups to Watch
Nova will be trying to tie Roger Clemens' Yankees record for consecutive regular-season wins when he takes the mound on Friday. He's won his last 15 regular-season decisions, though he was charged with the loss in Game 5 of the 2011 ALDS against the Tigers in Yankee Stadium.
Nova has survived allowing 25 hits, including four home runs, in 19 innings this season, largely because of his 20 strikeouts and two walks. Opponents are 3-for-28 with nine strikeouts against Nova with runners in scoring position.
Nova's breaking ball has been particularly effective at getting hitters out in key situations. Seven of his nine strikeouts with runners in scoring position have come via the curveball or the slider. He has five strikeouts with those pitches in all other situations.
What's noteworthy about the Jeter-Verlander matchup is that Jeter doesn't get hits against Verlander the way he usually does. In the last three seasons, combining the regular season and postseason, Jeter has eight hits agaisnt the Tigers righty. All were to center field or left field.
Jeter enters the night with a 15-game hitting streak and a four-game multi-hit streak. The last time Jeter had that long a hitting streak was in 2009, when he had a 16-game hitting streak. The last time he had that long a multi-hit streak was last August, when he had a five-gamer.
Jeter has a .330 career batting average against the Tigers, but much of that was done earlier in his career. Over the last three regular seasons, he's just 16-for-81 (.198 batting average) against them.
The only two teams against whom he has a higher batting average are the Indians (.340) and the Angels (.333).
Well-Rested Setup Man
The Yankees will have a well-rested setup man for the Tigers series. David Robertson has only pitched once in the Yankees last five games, and didn't pitch at all in the series against the Rangers.
Robertson has pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Tigers, combining regular season and postseason work.