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Tigers move Verlander up to Thursday vs. Tribe

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus had been talking since the middle of Spring Training about shuffling his rotation to not have Drew Smyly and Rick Porcello pitch back to back. With Smyly rejoining the rotation Wednesday against Cleveland, Ausmus shuffled the rest of his pitching order, moving Justin Verlander up a day to pitch Thursday's series finale against the Indians and pushing Porcello back to Friday's opener against the Angels.

The move has several benefits, from pitting Detroit's ace against a division rival he has beaten regularly to allowing Verlander to get back into rhythm of four days' rest, which he prefers. It's the pitching order, however, which Ausmus cited.

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SAN DIEGO -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus had been talking since the middle of Spring Training about shuffling his rotation to not have Drew Smyly and Rick Porcello pitch back to back. With Smyly rejoining the rotation Wednesday against Cleveland, Ausmus shuffled the rest of his pitching order, moving Justin Verlander up a day to pitch Thursday's series finale against the Indians and pushing Porcello back to Friday's opener against the Angels.

The move has several benefits, from pitting Detroit's ace against a division rival he has beaten regularly to allowing Verlander to get back into rhythm of four days' rest, which he prefers. It's the pitching order, however, which Ausmus cited.

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"It was more about splitting up Porcello and Smyly," Ausmus said.

Both Verlander and Porcello had success against Cleveland last year. While Verlander went 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts against the Tribe, Porcello posted a 3-0 mark in four meetings, allowing just five earned runs on 17 hits over 24 2/3 innings.

Even so, this year's Indians lineup leans heavily toward left-handed batters and switch-hitters, which traditionally has been Porcello's weakness.

In theory, the righty-heavy Angels lineup should be friendlier for Porcello, but that lineup thrashed him twice last season, from a nine-run opening inning in Anaheim (April 20) to a five-run fifth inning at Comerica Park (June 25). Detroit's infield defense let him down in the first matchup, though, with a slew of ground ball and infield singles setting up Mike Trout's grand slam to knock Porcello out in the opening frame.

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

Detroit Tigers, Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander