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ALDS Game 5 Preview: Tigers vs. Yankees

Not only were baseball fans spoiled by two incredible Wild Card races in September (one of which literally went down to the last second of the season), but they now get to watch three game fives in the Divisional Series.

First up, the Tigers and Yankees tonight at 8pm EST.

At the outset of this series I had the Yankees winning three games to one. Detroit was far from a pushover, but in terms of each team's ability to score and prevent runs the Yankees clearly had an edge. And that has generally played out in the series so far, despite the 2-2 tie.

In four games, the Yankees have a run differential of +12, while the Tigers have a run differential of -12. When the Tigers have won, they've managed to keep a lid on the Yankees prolific offense, winning Games 2 and 3 5-3 and 5-4.

Generally speaking, the Tigers have also done a nice job depressing--as much as one can--the Yankees use of the long ball. The Yankees led the league in HR% this year at 3.5%. So far in this series, that rate is only ~1.9%. In fact, the Tigers have hit one home run in each game this series, and have more home run than the Yankees (4-3). 

Game 5 features a rematch between Ivan Nova and Doug Fister, the pitchers of record for Game 1 of the series.

Fister was brilliant during the regular season, but only lasted 4 2/3 innings during the continuation of Game 1. He strikeout six and only walked two during his time, but the Yankees got to him for one run in the 5th and then two more runs in the 6th inning before Fister was pulled with the bases loaded for Al Alburquerque. Alburquerque promptly surrendered a grand slam to Robinson Cano and that was that.

Nova, on the other hand, pitched 6 2/3 innings, getting the Yankees to the ninth inning before yielding to the pen. He was fortunate to only allow two runs given his four free passes, but he wasn't hit all that hard and the Yankees certainly had a cushion given their offensive eruption in the 6th.

If Fister can limit the free passes and the flyballs (something he's normally quite good at) tonight in Yankee stadium, he and the Tigers definitely have a shot to take the series. But that's easier said then done. Either way, it should be a great game and a lot of fun to watch.

I'm sticking with my original pick of the Yankees here, but I would be far from shocked if Detroit managed to make it through to the ALCS.