W2W4: Yankees at Tigers (June 2)

Hiroki Kuroda Stats To Watch

Kuroda is 1-4 with a 4.55 ERA on the road, but made his best road start of the season in his last effort against the Athletics.

This will be the second straight start in which Kuroda pitches on five days rest, and we bring that up because of his splits this season. He is 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA on five days rest this season, 0-4 with an 8.53 ERA on four days rest.

Perhaps this is coincidental, but Kuroda has done a better job of keeping his splitter down and his curveball away when pitching on longer rest. That may explain why he’s given up only three home runs in 36 2/3 innings in those starts (compared to six in 19 innings on four days rest).

Rick Porcello Stats To Watch

Two important hitters in the Yankees lineup have been stymied by Porcello. Derek Jeter is 0-for-9 against Porcello in the regular season, though he did go 1-for-3 against him in last year’s ALDS.

Mark Teixeira is also 1-for-12 against him, combining regular season and postseason.

The issue for both is not that they can’t hit Porcello. They’ve only missed on three of the 33 swings taken against him. But Porcello has been able to induce ground balls- the two have combined for 15, and just one hit on them.

Porcello has induced plenty of ground balls this season, but the defense behind him has not turned them into outs at a high rate. Opponents have reached base on 31 percent of their grounders against him, six percentage points above major-league average.

Ibanez Due for Better?

Raul Ibanez has been very good for the Yankees this season, and should be back in the lineup today against a right-handed pitcher. The case could be made that he’s due to be even better.

Ibanez has a .242 batting average on balls in play, well below the .290 BABIP he posted from 2009 to 2011.

The low BABIP is due to lower-than-usual numbers when he hits a line drive (16-for-25) and a ground ball (6-for-42). Ibanez’s BABIP has climbed a couple of times on this road trip, with multi-hit, no-homer games in Oakland and Anaheim, but a further spike may be ahead.

Cabrera Approach

The Yankees repeatedly worked Miguel Cabrera inside on Friday, which made sense with CC Sabathia pitching, as Cabrera does not hit inside pitches from lefties well.

They may have caught a break when Rafael Soriano induced a double play from Cabrera in the ninth inning on an inside fastball.

Cabrera has seven home runs and five doubles against inside pitches from righties this season. He’s hitting .323 when an at-bat against a righty ends with a pitch on the inner-third of the plate or closer to him. So don’t look for Kuroda to take that approach.