Ausmus shuffles rotation as Tigers host White Sox (Jun 02, 2017)
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus will take advantage of a three-game weekend series sandwiched by two days off to shuffle his pitching rotation.
The players most affected are Justin Verlander and Matthew Boyd.
Ausmus wanted Verlander to pitch Sunday against the Chicago White Sox on his normal rest instead of working Tuesday with two extra days off. Going that route afforded the Detroit manager the opportunity to push the struggling Boyd, winless in May, back to the end of the rotation and give him extra time to tinker with his delivery.
"We're not concerned long-term," Ausmus said of Boyd, who has given up 18 runs and 36 hits over the 16 innings that constitute his last four starts. "But we obviously want him to pitch better, no question about that. He wants to pitch better, too."
Michael Fulmer, who lost his last two starts by 3-0 and 1-0 scores on a road trip that saw Detroit play 11 games in 10 days and go 4-7, will pitch Friday against Chicago in the opener of the series. He'll be working with an extra day of rest thanks to Thursday's team day off, as will Saturday starter Jordan Zimmermann.
Lefty Daniel Norris will pitch Tuesday against the visiting Los Angeles Angels and Fulmer will work Wednesday on normal rest. Boyd will return to the rotation Thursday.
In between starts, Boyd will work on getting his arm angle higher and staying on top of the ball so he can get more break and depth on his off-speed stuff.
"He's still learning that part of his mechanics, where it's like, 'OK, if I am off on these types of pitches, what do I need to do to get back? How do I make the adjustment?'" Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. "He's learning that. He's been working his butt off trying to figure it out, and that's why he's been struggling little bit.
"But he's also capable of going on a run for a couple of months where he's lights out. He just has to continue to work at it."
Fulmer (5-3, 2.65) lost his 3-0 game to the White Sox in Chicago on Saturday. It was the first game of a makeup doubleheader. Fulmer's loss was his only career decision vs. the White Sox in his two major league seasons. He has made four starts with a cumulative 3.86 ERA against them.
His Friday opponent, left-hander Derek Holland, pitched Saturday against Detroit, but in the second of the two games.
Holland (4-4, 2.37) was the losing pitcher in that start and that squared his career log against the Tigers at 1-1. He has a 2.52 ERA against Detroit in six career starts.
The White Sox will have Miguel Gonzalez and lefty David Holmberg pitching against the Tigers in the other two games of the series.
Chicago recorded 49 strikeouts against Detroit in the four-game set, the most whiffs by the Tigers in a series of that length since at least 1913. The Tigers drew nine walks off White Sox pitchers in losing the first game of the doubleheader, the most for Detroit in a shutout loss since 1977.
"We've had some pretty good battles," manager Rick Renteria told the Chicago Sun-Times, summing up Chicago's season to date. "From the won-lost perspective, obviously it's not as good as we would want it to be at this point. But we've been in a lot of ballgames.
"If we continue to battle and fight and do the things that are necessary to improve, not only as a team but in the way we approach it in our mindset, and we give ourselves a chance daily, then we're on the right track."
One of Chicago's strengths this season has been its bullpen, which has a 2.84 ERA that ranks third in the majors and is holding opponents to a major-league-low .195 batting average. And this is despite not having Nate Jones, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka because of injuries.
"It's what you have to do to be a successful team," White Sox reliever Chris Beck said. "I know people are counting us out as a rebuilding year, but guys in this locker room don't see it that way."
The White Sox are beginning a three-city trip while the Tigers, who have played a league-high 31 road games, will play 22 of their next 32 at Comerica Park.
Detroit opens June three games below .500, the same as last year. The Tigers went 18-11 last June.