Zimmermann to start opener of final series

Tigers sending Verlander to the hill in Game 162 vs. Braves

September 28th, 2016

DETROIT -- The Tigers' starting rotation is taking shape for the final series of the regular season against the Braves at Turner Field. will start the series opener Friday, while is scheduled to start the regular-season finale on Sunday, manager Brad Ausmus said.

Saturday's starter is still undetermined, but Ausmus said it will be either or Matt Boyd.

While that is the plan, Ausmus said all hands are on deck and things could change with the team fighting for a Wild Card spot, as well as inclement weather looming in Detroit on Wednesday and Thursday.

"We'll see how [Wednesday] plays out with the weather, and certainly what we don't want to happen is to start the game, [Michael] Fulmer goes three innings and we get into an extended rain delay and now he can't go back out there," Ausmus said. "But we'll deal with that when it happens, and I suppose if it happens, depending on how many innings he throws, we might be able to bring him back on short rest and he might be able to pitch over the weekend."

Zimmermann will be throwing on the regular four days of rest Friday, as he allowed one run in three innings of work out of the bullpen on Sunday against the Royals. While Zimmermann had a successful relief appearance, he has struggled in a starting role for a greater part of the season.

He has been battling injuries since late June and has only made two starts (Aug. 4, Sept. 10) in the second half of the season, both of which were rocky returns from the DL that lasted fewer than two innings. He allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings against the White Sox on Aug. 4, and six runs in one inning against the Orioles on Sept. 10.

As for Saturday's start, Boyd and Farmer are both still trying to find consistency late in the season. 

Farmer allowed four runs over five innings in Monday's loss to the Indians after throwing 4 1/3 scoreless relief innings Sept. 13 against Minnesota. Boyd has had two quality starts in September, but also had two short starts. He threw eight innings of one-run ball against the Twins on Sept. 20, after that same team tagged him for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings a week earlier. Boyd followed up his eight-inning outing by allowing four runs while facing just five batters on Sunday against Kansas City without recording an out.

Verlander is coming off 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Indians on Tuesday when he racked up a season-high 12 strikeouts.