The 30-year-old played long toss before Friday's game and is scheduled to throw a side session this weekend. If all goes well, Zimmermann will start against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday in Detroit.
"If he can't [make his next start], he'll probably have to go on the DL," said Detroit bench coach Gene Lamont, who is filling in for manager Brad Ausmus while Ausmus is in San Diego for his daughter's graduation.
Zimmermann is 7-2 in his first season with the Tigers after signing a five-year, $110 million contract with Detroit in the offseason. The two-time All-Star pitcher has a career-low 2.52 ERA that is sixth-best among qualifying starters in the AL.
Matt Boyd is slated to be called up from Triple-A Toledo to start Saturday's game against Oakland. The left-hander went 1-3 with a 2.06 ERA with 41 strikeouts in eight starts with the Mud Hens.
"He was definitely the next guy if we needed somebody," Lamont said. "He's improved an awful lot. He looked good in the spring but we kind of had our rotation then. Will it just be one time? We don't know."
Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Tigers on Friday.