Yankees face Tigers in pivotal series

Stephen Oh

AccuScore simulates every game of the season thousands of times to generate the exact winning percentage for each team in each game. It also simulates the entire season 10,000 times to calculate the precise odds of each team making the playoffs. Each week, AccuScore focuses on a key MLB series that could have a major impact on playoff races. Visit AccuScore.com for more details on MLB simulations.

The New York Yankees may be three games behind the Red Sox after getting swept by the Angels, but they still hold a 2.5-game lead in the wild-card race and have a better record than the AL West and AL Central division leaders. The Tigers are in a good position to win the AL Central, but the White Sox are playing better and the Twins are traditionally a strong second-half team. It is crucial that the Tigers not only focus on winning their division, but they also need to look to catch the Yankees in a potential wild-card race.


Detroit's Game 1 starter, Luke French(notes), has an impressive 1.93 ERA and has held batters to a .222 average, but this is over just 14 career innings and two starts. His numbers were inflated by pitching nine of 14 innings against the Royals and Oakland's – two teams that rank in the bottom fourth of the league in batting average and runs per game. When French faces the #1 offense in the league, New York, on the road against A.J. Burnett(notes), who has lowered his ERA from 4.89 on June 9th to 3.77 on July 8th, AccuScore expects the Yankees to score four runs off French in 5.1 innings pitched. With Burnett allowing an average of 3.4 runs in 7 IP, the Yankees have a 67 percent chance of winning Game 1.

GAME 1: French vs Burnett 33% 67%
GAME 2: Verlander vs Sabathia 48% 52%
GAME 3: Jackson vs Chamberlain 51% 49%
AVERAGE 44% 56%
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Game 2 and Game 3 are expected to be virtual coin flips as the Tigers have their All-Stars Justin Verlander(notes) and Edwin Jackson(notes) set to start. Verlander's ERA on the road is considerably higher than his ERA at home (4.98 on road vs. 1.34 at home). With all the home runs flying out of the new Yankee Stadium, CC Sabathia's(notes) ERA is considerably higher at home than on the road (4.55 vs 3.33). Both offenses have a shot at scoring 5+ runs despite the quality of both starters, but the Yankees do have the slight 52 percent edge.

Jackson's road ERA is lower than his ERA at home (2.33 vs. 2.73). Joba Chamberlain(notes) has not been very good as a starter allowing batters to hit .282 and his ERA has steadily risen from 3.77 two months ago to 4.25 now. Right now, the Tigers' best chance of winning a game in this series is Game 3 vs. Joba Chamberlain.


Despite being forecasted for a second-place finish in the AL East, the Yankees are forecasted for the second best record in the American League and have a 65 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Tigers have a 3.5 game lead and in 10,000 simulations they are averaging a three-game lead in the division at the end of the season. The Tigers have a 52 percent chance of winning the AL Central (Yankees have just a 29 percent to win AL East), but they have just a 54 percent chance of making the playoffs. This series is crucial because it is an opportunity for Detroit to gain ground on the Yankees (and Boston) in a potential wild-card race should Minnesota or Chicago make a second-half run for the Central Division lead.

If the Tigers can shock the Yankees and get a sweep their chances increase from 54 to 64 percent. Meanwhile, the Yankees' chances drop from 65 percent to just 54 percent. It is more than twice as likely that the Yankees sweep Detroit (17 percent chance of a Yankee sweep) and if that happens the Yankees are looking rock solid to make the playoffs at 74 percent while the Tigers' chances dip to 45 percent.

Tigers Sweep Yankees 8% 64% 54%
Yankees Win 1 Game 33% 58% 61%
Yankees Win 2 Games 42% 51% 69%
Yankees Sweep Tigers 17% 45% 74%
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The most likely scenario is the Yankees take two of three and improve their playoff chances to 69 percent.