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Tigers' rotation remains in flux for Royals series

Thanks to a scheduled day off on Thursday and Justin Verlander having suffered a blister in his last start, Brad Ausmus is contemplating his rotation options for this weekend's series in Kansas City.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers can put a stranglehold on the AL Central with a successful series against the Kansas City Royals this weekend. A big part of the Tigers' winning the series will be their starting rotation imposing their will upon the Royals. But as of today, manager Brad Ausmus has yet to tip his hand as to who will get the starting assignments in the three games.

Detroit's rotation is currently set only through the remaining two games of their series with the Twins - Rick Porcello gets the starting nod tonight, David Price is scheduled to take the mound Wednesday night. For the upcoming three-game weekend series against the Royals, the Tigers currently have "To be announced" listed as their probable starters.

If Ausmus elects to not juggle his rotation, rookie left-hander Kyle Lobstein is on track to start Friday, with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer taking the weekend match ups.

Two factors appear to be playing a factor in Ausmus' delaying his decision in regard to who starts this weekend. A day off on Thursday could allow skipping Lobstein in the rotation (even though the Tigers are 4-0 in his starts), and the fact Justin Verlander is recovering from a blister he suffered on this thumb during his last appearance, a no-decision against the Cleveland Indians this past Sunday.

When asked about the rotation for what is arguably the three biggest games of Detroit's season, Ausmus refused to reveal anything past the Twins' series, cryptically saying, "There are some moving parts right now." When pressed if Verlander's thumb was one of those moving parts, Ausmus replied "That's one, but that's not actually a major one."

Ausmus admitted he may have the weekend rotation set before tonight's game in Minnesota, but refused to tip his hand. This afternoon Asumus said the rotation remains 'To be announced,' mentioning some starters may need an extra day of rest. He did not say who those pitchers were.

Kansas City remains without the services of Danny Duffy, but manager Ned Yost has set up his rotation for the first two games against Detroit - Jeremy Guthrie pitches Friday night, Jason Vargas taking the mound Saturday afternoon. It's yet to be announced, but it appears Kansas City will send James Shields to the mound for Sunday's series finale.

Yost has juggled his rotation as of this afternoon, setting up the Royals' starting pitching against the Tigers while keeping the post season in mind. Jason Vargas will start Friday, James Shields will be moved up to Saturday, and Jeremy Guthrie was bumped to Sunday. The move with Shields was made in order for the Royals to have their ace start either the wild-card game or game one of the ALDS.