Lost in the battles for the final bullpen spots and the second base job is the fact that the Tigers haven’t decided yet who will start the second game of the season or the last game in Baltimore before the home opener. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello already have their assignments, but Phil Coke and Brad Penny do not. One of them is expected to make those two starts, and the other will either be held back or work out of the bullpen for the first week of the season.
“Somebody’s going to be skipped a turn,” Jim Leyland said this morning. “That’s going to be worked out shortly.”
It’s a short-term decision made necessary by having two off-days in the first week. Once the Tigers get back to Detroit, they have a long stretch of games without an off-day, and the five starters will slot in turn. But the decision could have a big impact on the road trip and what kind of momentum they take home with them.
Coke (who starts today) and Penny (who starts Thursday against the Twins) have been starting back-to-back this spring, so you can’t make out anything from the pitching order. Penny would have to take an extra day of rest to fall in line for the March 2 game at Yankee Stadium. Coke would have two extra days, so he might throw an extra side session or something.