Lakeland, Fla. — Manager Brad Ausmus isn’t ready to declare who his fourth and fifth starters are going to be this season, let alone who might start the home opener April 7 against the Red Sox.
But there are indications it could be reigning American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer.
“Justin Verlander is starting opening day (in Chicago), that’s the only thing that is set,” Ausmus said. “I will also say that we are pushing Fulmer to the back (of the rotation) because we started him slower. We’ve been easing him in.”
In that scenario, it’s plausible that Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris would start the other two games against the White Sox. That would seemingly set up Fulmer for the opener in Detroit.
“He would be available to start all 162 games,” Ausmus said, coyly. “But he’s not.”
He was asked if giving Fulmer the home opener would be a suitable reward for his work last season.
“We might discuss that,” Ausmus said.
The Tigers have nine starters left in camp, including Sandy Baez and Warwick Saupold, who are extreme longshots to make the 25-man roster. The rotation battle, essentially, is for the fifth spot.
Matthew Boyd, Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey are the combatants for the final slot.