DETROIT — The Tigers held their pre-postseason workout at Comerica Park on Tuesday and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus announced the starting rotation for games one through four of the American League Division Series against the Orioles, which opens in Baltimore on Thursday. Other than that, the remaining 25-man roster is still undecided largely because the team does not yet know the status of center fielder Rajai Davis.
Max Scherzer will start the series opener and Justin Verlander will pitch game two in Baltimore. The Tigers will then return home for two games where David Price will get the start on Sunday, while Rick Porcello will take the mound if needed for game four. Scherzer was told he would start game one on Monday.
Ausmus said he took everything into consideration when choosing the starting rotation, but he ultimately went with Scherzer for game one as he's had the best season out of the four pitchers this year.
"He's been our best pitcher," Ausmus said. "Actually, he was kind of lined up for game one anyway. Had we had to play the Royals (in Game 163), Verlander would've pitched that game, and then Max would've pitched the Wild Card."
Past postseason performance and experience, as well as their innings and how they pitched against the Orioles this season were taken into account. Ausmus looked at Verlander's track record against Baltimore, but it didn't play a large factor into why he opted for Scherzer instead.
"Let's be honest, the turnover in team rosters is so significant now these days, that a pitcher's record versus one team over the past six years has very little bearing on the team he's facing today," Ausmus said. "I looked at it and ultimately I felt like this was the best way to go."
The primary reason why Ausmus chose to start Price third, instead of Verlander, was because Price has given up a lot of home runs this season, and in the home run friendly confines of Camden Yards, it would be a greater risk pitching to the O's home run heavy team.
Ausmus also didn't want to have Price pitch second because then he would run into the risk of Verlander resting for too many days and it would be stretching Verlander out too far. If the Tigers are forced to play a fifth game back in Baltimore, Ausmus said that both Scherzer and Verlander would be an option to pitch.
The rest of the 25-man roster remains undecided. The Tigers have until Thursday morning at 10 am to announce their roster, and with Davis' status still unclear, the team is holding off on announcing anything.
Monday Davis told Ausmus he was feeling better but Ausmus said he could tell Davis felt his recovery wasn't to the point that he was hoping for. Right now, the decision to start Davis could go either way and Ausmus' level of optimism wasn't tilted one way or the other. Ausmus said he likely wouldn't be able to make a final decision until Wednesday's workout in Baltimore. The team leaves for Maryland today.
Davis' status puts not only the starting position players and bench in the air, it puts a hold on the bullpen because it affects how many relievers Ausmus would bring along. The Tigers could also opt for Davis to be on the bench and have Ezequiel Carrera start, keeping Davis day-to-day if it comes down to it, but Ausmus hasn't decided that yet either.
Davis has been receiving treatment for his injury, but that's as far as he's progressed. He did not participate in batting practice on the field Tuesday, though he did take soft toss in the indoor cages.
"Really, if you have Raj (Davis), really the thought process is you probably don't need to pinch hit as much, so you might not use as many bench players," Ausmus said. "Whereas if you don't have Raj, you might need an extra bench player, which cuts into your bullpen."
While Ausmus would not discuss the rest of the roster, he did say that Anibal Sanchez is good to go for the postseason and that he'd likely use Sanchez for a couple innings if and when he's needed. In a perfect world Ausmus said he'd like his starter to go the full nine innings, but as usual every game is different and there's no way to determine how things are going to progress.
Also discussed was Andrew Romine, who has been defensively solid for the Tigers. Ausmus said the fact that Romine began to hit well in September played a large role as to why he started Romine over Eugenio Suarez. Ausmus said he couldn't put his finger on anything in particular as to why Romine's bat has gotten hot. Whether Romine makes the starting lineup or not, Ausmus said he would be an "integral part of it."
"He's the type of guy that if he hits at all, a lot of teams, including us, would look at playing him on a regular basis," Ausmus said. "The fact that he's hit makes it easy to put him in the lineup because you know the defense will be there."