The left-hander is 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA this season, winning a rotation spot out of Spring Training and dazzling in his first month. However, he's slowed down as of late, giving up at least three runs in each of his past six outings and not recording a quality start since May 9.
"We thought Smyly's done OK," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We felt an injury shouldn't take him off the team at this time. We're not saying he's done great. We think he's done OK."
It will also be a bit of a homecoming for Smyly, who grew up in Arkansas and lives in Dallas.
"I have a lot of family and friends coming in," Smyly said. I have a lot of friends that actually live in Dallas. They've got jobs here, so they're all coming. It should be fun. Hopefully it goes well."
Texas also sends out one of its rookie pitchers, however his following is a bit larger. Yu Darvish takes the mound for the second game of the series, looking for his 10th win of the season and seeking a repeat performance of his last outing against Detroit.
After his first two Major League starts raised questions, Darvish quieted the critics with a stellar performance in Detroit, allowing only two hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory.
"He's very good," Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera said after the 10-3 loss on April 19. "I think he's only going to get better."
And the Japanese right-hander has gotten better, posting a 7-4 record since that point and three double-digit strikeout games, lowering his ERA from 4.76 to 3.45.
Tigers: Avila forced to sit with knee soreness
Alex Avila sat out Monday's series opener with a sore left knee after undergoing an MRI. It's an injury that's bothered him going back to last season, but after missing time for a right hamstring injury, he thought both had recovered. It's enough to make Leyland nervous.
"I don't know what's going on," Leyland said. "We're having it looked at, but I could tell he wasn't feeling right in Pittsburgh. He wasn't moving right. ... I'm more concerned with this because he was off for 15 days [with the hamstring strain], and it's sore."
Through April, Smyly paced the American League with a 1.23 ERA. He allowed only three runs in four starts during that first month of the season, and one of those starts -- the third of his career -- came against Texas. He held the potent Rangers lineup to one run on five hits over six innings in a no-decision.
"The last time I faced them, I had a lot of success, so you can't just throw everything out the window," Smyly said. "You have to stick with that game plan until they show you they've made an adjustment. If they come out and show you they've made an adjustment, then it's up to you to make a different adjustment."
Rangers: Gentry expected to return
Outfielder Craig Gentry is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday with the Rangers facing a lefty. Gentry has been dealing with a sore right ankle, which he twisted during Friday's game against the Rockies. He then re-aggravated it on Saturday.
"I'm not 100 percent, but it's getting better," Gentry said Monday. "I'm good enough to play."
Josh Hamilton is in fact human. After hitting .368 with 21 home runs through the first two months of the season, Hamilton finds himself in a slump. So far in June, he is batting .197 with two homers and nine RBIs, including a two-run shot in the seventh inning of Monday's series opener. He is 2-for-his-last-16 since being hospitalized with an intestinal virus.
"I just go through phases where I become a little jumpy at the plate," Hamilton said. "I try to do too much."
Hamilton faced Smyly once this season and went 3-for-3 with a home run.
The Rangers took three out of four games from the Tigers in April. They outscored Detroit 25-12 in the series. The Tigers entered that series with a 9-3 record but have since fallen under .500. The Rangers were 10-2 and have since flourished. They own the best record in the Majors.