YANKEES V. TIGERS BATTLE OF BIG PITCHERS

Tonight’s Yankees v. Detroit Tigers game will be a battle of two BIG pitchers, big in the sense of large. C. C. Sabathia, who gained back some, but not all, of the weight that he lost last year but still is listed as 6’7”, 285 pounds in the Yankee roster, will face Alfredo Simon, the Tigers newly acquired right hander, who is 6’6”, 285 pounds.

Simon has had two starts with the Tigers this year, winning both of them. He was acquired by the Tigers from the Cincinatti Reds in a trade in December. With the Reds last year, he was 15-10 in 32 starts with a 3.44 ERA. He is a 34 year old right hander who has spent time in the Phillies, Giants, Rangers, Dodgers, Orioles, Reds and now Tigers organizations.

Until last season and, with the exception of 2011, when he had 16 starts with Baltimore and won only four while losing nine, he has been used exclusively in relief. The Orioles used him as a Closer in 2010 and he saved 17 of 21 attempts.

He made his debut with the Orioles on September 6, 2008 after being called up at the end of the season and only appeared in four games. The following year, he was back in the minors and appeared in just two games with the O’s. After being traded to the Reds in 2012, he appeared in 99 games in relief in the next two years, winning nine and losing six.

Simon started on April 10 this year and went 5 1/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians, giving up three runs on seven hits and getting the win. On April 15, he went eight shutout innings against Pittsburgh giving up only two hits and getting his second win.

I saw him pitch in Tampa Bay, in the last Spring Training game on April 4, this year. He went five innings, giving up just one hit, in a game the Tigers won 1-0 on a second inning homer by Victor Martinez. His control was impressive, throwing 50 pitches with just 13 balls. He is not an overpowering pitcher, despite his size. Last year, in 196 innings, he struck out just 127 batters.

Sabathia, of course, has had his problems. After missing most of last season and winning just three while losing four, he has lost his first two starts of this season. He lost to Toronto on April 9, giving up four runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings and to Baltimore on April 14, giving up four runs on seven hits in seven innings. He struck out eight against the Jays and seven against the O’s but did not look good in either appearance.

Tonight’s game, which will be telecast on ESPN, will pit two of the biggest pitchers in baseball against each other. Detroit has been hot and the Yankees have made it back up to the .500 mark against a weak Tampa Bay Rays team. If Sabathia can have a rare good night, this could be a great game to watch.

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