DETROIT -- The Tigers didn't need to wait until the last minute to make a decision on Doug Fister. He has been scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday against the Angels after the team medical staff determined his right groin strain wouldn't allow him to be ready to pitch.
Thus, the Tigers will follow their contingency plan and start rookie left-hander Drew Smyly in Fister's place. Smyly began the year in the rotation but lost his spot while he was injured once Detroit traded for Anibal Sanchez last month. He'll be making his first start for the Tigers since July 6, the final week before the All-Star break.
Whether it'll be a one-time start for Smyly or something more is the next question. The fact that the Tigers haven't put Fister on the disabled list suggests at least some hope they can get him ready for next weekend against the White Sox.
If the Tigers send down a reliever for Saturday, for instance, they could go a man short in the bullpen for a day and then get back to full strength by recalling left-hander Duane Below, who would be eligible to return by then. The catch with going a reliever short, however, is that Smyly hasn't lasted five innings in any of his five starts since the Tigers optioned him to Triple-A Toledo after the Sanchez trade, though he pitched only one inning on Monday in order to be ready to pitch on short rest.
Smyly opened the season in Detroit's rotation and maintained his starting spot through the first half, save for his mid-June stint on the disabled list with a blister problem. He went back on the DL after the All-Star break with an intercostal strain, but by the time Smyly was ready to come back, the Sanchez trade filled a spot in the rotation.