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Smyly returns to starting rotation on Wednesday

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Drew Smyly reprised his role as bullpen savior Wednesday against the Dodgers, but his relief stint will come to an end in the next couple days. Manager Brad Ausmus said the left-hander is tentatively scheduled to return to the rotation and start Wednesday against Cleveland at Comerica Park.

"That's the plan right now," Ausmus said.

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SAN DIEGO -- Drew Smyly reprised his role as bullpen savior Wednesday against the Dodgers, but his relief stint will come to an end in the next couple days. Manager Brad Ausmus said the left-hander is tentatively scheduled to return to the rotation and start Wednesday against Cleveland at Comerica Park.

"That's the plan right now," Ausmus said.

View Full Game Coverage

It's a few days earlier than expected. The Tigers could go without a fifth starter until next Saturday if they wanted. By returning Smyly early, however, he matches up against an Indians lineup that leans heavily toward left-handed batters and switch-hitters. The only purely right-handed hitter in Cleveland's regular batting order is catcher Yan Gomes.

Correspondingly, the Indians entered Friday batting just .192 with a .542 OPS against left-handed pitching, compared with .265 and .764 off right-handers.

Smyly delivered three scoreless innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday, facing the minimum nine batters. It was eerily similar to his early-season bullpen success last year, which eventually elevated him from long reliever to setup man and left-handed specialist.

"It's a unique situation," Ausmus said of Smyly. "He's supposed to be one of our starters and because of the schedule, we can use him in the bullpen. Fortunately, we've been able to use him in spots where he's gone multiple innings, so we've taken advantage of that during this two-week stretch.

"But he's been outstanding. He doesn't seem to get rattled by big situations. I think you could pitch him three innings or you could pitch him in the bottom of the ninth, and I don't think it would change his demeanor."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

Detroit Tigers, Drew Smyly