Detroit Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 2016 but he’s mired in a full-fledged sophomore slump entering the finale of a three-game series against the visiting New York Yankees on Thursday afternoon. Fulmer has lost five consecutive starts, including a rocky outing at Yankee Stadium on July 31.
While Fulmer looks to end his drought against New York’s high-powered offense, left-hander Jaime Garcia remains in search of his first win since he was shipped to the Yankees at the trade deadline. Garcia’s batterymate, Gary Sanchez, burst onto the scene a year ago by matching the record for the fastest major leaguer to reach 20 homers in his career. Sanchez is in the midst of another power surge, going 5-for-11 with three homers and seven RBIs in a pair of lopsided wins for New York, which remains 4 1/2 games back of first-place Boston in the American League East. Detroit has been outscored 25-6 in the series to fall to 1-8 over its last nine games.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, YES (New York), FSN Detroit
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees LH Jaime García (5-8, 4.52 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Michael Fulmer (10-11, 3.60)
Garcia picked up his second straight no-decision at the New York Mets a week ago, permitting three runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in his third start for the Yankees. He worked 5 2/3 frames at Boston in his previous turn, giving up three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. The 31-year-old Garcia has surrendered three homers in his last two starts after not allowing one in his previous five turns.
Fulmer deserved a better fate last time out after working seven strong innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing one unearned run and three hits over seven frames. He was hit hard in his previous two turns, giving up five runs in five innings at Texas and seven runs over six innings versus the Yankees. Fulmer has limited Todd Frazier to 4-for-17, but Chase Headley is 3-for-5 against him.
1. Sanchez has seven homers and 17 RBIs over his last nine games.
2. Tigers SS José Iglesias is 4-for-7 with a homer in the series.
3. Yankees 2B Ronald Torreyes is 6-for-7 in the series after tying a career best with four hits Wednesday.
PREDICTION: Yankees 5, Tigers 4