W2W4: Yankees at Tigers (June 1)

CC Sabathia Stats To Watch

Sabathia’s slider has not been as dominant in his last two starts as it usually is. That may explain his seven walks in his last 14 innings.

Hitters typically swing at about half the sliders Sabathia throws, but they’ve gone after only 16 of the 54 he’s thrown in his last two starts.

Sabathia will see one of the hitters who hits him best in Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is 10-for-20 against him in the regular season, 10-for-22 overall. He had an RBI double against Sabathia in their previous meeting on April 29, but was retired on three other occasions.

For those wondering if Sabathia’s fastball velocity is a little low for this time of year, it is down slightly from last season. He averaged 92.8 mph on his fastball through the end of May in 2011. It is at 92.1 through two months in 2012.

June 2011 is when Sabathia’s velocity kicked up. He averaged 94 mph with his fastball that month.

Casey Crosby Stats To Watch

As another pitcher makes his major league debut against the Yankees, we again recalculate how the Yankees fare against pitchers in the first game of their careers.

The issues the Yankees have had in the past seem to be no more. The last three starting pitchers to debut against the Yankees have allowed 15 runs in 14 innings.

The last Tigers starter to debut against the Yankees was Beiker Graterol, who allowed seven runs in four innings in a loss on April 9, 1999, then never pitched again in the majors.

Comerica Effect

Though Comerica Park’s outfield is a little spacious, it didn’t impact the Yankees ability to hit home runs last year. They hit seven in the three regular-season games there.

Comerica actually ranks high on ESPN’s Park Factor list, thus far ranking as the eighth-friendliest homer-hitting park in the majors this season.

Welcome Back Curtis

Yankees right fielder Curtis Granderson returns to Comerica Park again swinging a good bat against lefties. He’s hitting .279 with five home runs in 61 at-bats against southpaws this season.

One of the quirks of what Granderson has done against lefties may play into how the Tigers defend him. Granderson has seen more and more infield shifts this season, and for good reason. Of the 18 grounders and line drives he’s hit versus lefties, only one has been to the third base side of second base.

Tigers Not So Grrrreat on Grounders

One of the Tigers' susceptibilities is their infield defense. They’ve allowed hitters to reach via hit or error on 28 percent of the ground balls hit against them.

That’s 3 percentage points above the major league average, which equates to about 15-20 extra baserunners over the course of a season.

The Tigers are the only American League team to have a negative rating at each of the four infield positions in the advanced metric "defensive runs saved," which measures the ability to turn batted balls into outs, convert double plays, and defend bunts.

Keep an Eye on the New Guy

With center fielder Austin Jackson out, the Tigers have replaced him with a prospect, Quintin Berry, who is off to a fast start, with a .333 batting average and five steals in 39 at-bats. He already has three infield hits.

Berry is very vulnerable to the strikeout, though, having already whiffed 15 times, nine against left-handed pitching.