Detroit left-hander Drew Smyly is set to make his first start of the season in the series opener against the Angels on Friday.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus wanted to split up Smyly and Rick Porcello, and the revised rotation that has Max Scherzer pitching the second game of the series and Porcello the third will accomplish that aim. Tuesday's postponement in Detroit forced Ausmus to move Smyly's turn back.
"He certainly understands," Ausmus said. "He's been a pro about it the whole time, and he continues to be. Unfortunately, the schedule and the weather have just wreaked havoc on our pitching rotation."
Because of two postponements and three off-days so far this season, the Tigers haven't yet needed a fifth starter. In two middle-relief appearances, Smyly has combined for six innings of work, striking out six and allowing just two hits and no runs.
Smyly will face a powerful Angels lineup that, despite frigid temperatures in Detroit this week, has the ability to play long ball. Roughly 50 percent of Los Angeles' runs have come via home runs. Mike Trout is tied for the American League lead with five.
Ausmus is very familiar with another Angels slugger, Albert Pujols, from his playing days in Houston when Pujols was on then-division rival St. Louis.
"When you're playing against those guys, you're just hoping they're not in a position to hurt you," Ausmus said of home run hitters like Pujols, who is four homers away from 500, and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera. "… There [were] plenty of times when [Pujols] got us. You can't avoid every situation."
In the Los Angeles dugout, the Tigers will notice a familiar face in the recently called-up Brennan Boesch. He was brought up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday to replace injured outfielder Kole Calhoun. Calhoun is expected to miss four to six weeks after his ankle injury from Tuesday's game turned out to be a "bad ligament sprain," according to his manager, Mike Scioscia.
Boesch played in 380 games for Detroit from 2010-12, and he finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year Award balloting after the 2010 season. He will likely be in the lineup in right field against right-handed pitching, making a Friday start against the lefty Smyly unlikely. But as part of a platoon with Collin Cowgill, Boesch should see at least a few at-bats in his return to Comerica Park.
Countering Smyly for the Angels will be ace Jered Weaver, who hasn't met expectations so far this season. Weaver is 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA. He has a 4.97 career ERA against the Tigers.
Angels: Team looking for answers in bullpen
The Angels are 7-8 entering Friday's game, yet they had led in five of those eight losses. Four times, they had been beaten in their opponents' final at-bat.
Which is why Scoscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher were among those who huddled part of the day Wednesday to reassess their relievers, situations, and who pitches when.
"You start the season with pseudo roles that you hope develop," Scioscia said. "If things aren't going in the right direction, you have to make adjustments, and we are. We have better arms down there than the way they're performing."
The Angels' bullpen entered Thursday's games ranked 12th in the AL with a 4.66 ERA, with 23 walks issued in 48 1/3 innings.
Tigers: Veteran Gonzalez inconsistent at shortstop
If there's a fountain of youth for 37-year-old Tigers shortstop Alex Gonzalez, it appears to be up the middle. It's where he has consistently made his better plays on defense, the latest being a rangy stop and toss to start a double play on Jason Kipnis to end Thursday's opening inning.
Gonzalez's miscues or non-plays, by contrast, have mainly come in other directions, either in the hole or charging in. It doesn't seem to be an arm issue, so much as range or positioning. He committed one of three Detroit errors Thursday.
"Alex has scuffled a little bit at times defensively," Ausmus said Wednesday, "but I think he's also a much better defender than what we've seen. So I think in that sense, I'm being a little more patient. But Andrew [Romine] needs to play."
Thursday marked Gonzalez's fourth consecutive start at short after he and Romine essentially split the first eight games.
• In addition to being tied for the AL lead in home runs, Trout is the leader in total bases (42), and ranks second in slugging percentage (.646).
• Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson's two hits Wednesday night against Cleveland gave him his fourth multihit game of the young season.
• The Tigers dropped all six of their meetings with the Angels last season, including a late-June series at Comerica Park, when they were outscored, 24-13.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.