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7/13/2014 1:30 P.M. ET

Ausmus sets up Tigers' second-half rotation

Anibal to start Indians series opener, Scherzer to work nightcap of Saturday's twin bill

KANSAS CITY -- The Tigers set their post All-Star break rotation before Sunday's series finale with the Royals.

Manager Brad Ausmus announced that Anibal Sanchez would pitch on Friday in the opener of a four-game series against the Indians at Comerica Park.

This came as a surprise considering Sanchez pitched in Detroit's 2-1 win this past Friday, and after Max Scherzer and Drew Smyly, who are scheduled to follow Sanchez in the post-break rotation.

Scherzer has the most time between starts and will pitch the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader.

Ausmus explained his reasoning for starting Sanchez before Scherzer.

"Originally, before [Scherzer's] All-Star selection, we were thinking Scherzer before Sanchez, but now that Scherzer is probably going to throw an inning [at the All-Star Game], we just flip-flopped them," Ausmus said.

Detroit opted for Smyly in the finale of the Cleveland series on Sunday over Justin Verlander because the Tribe features a lineup that caters to a left-handed pitcher.

"Pitching Smyly was something we talked about early on against Cleveland, just because they have so many left-handed bats," Ausmus said.

Verlander and Rick Porcello will start the first two games of the series at Arizona on Monday, July 21 and Tuesday, July 22.

Ausmus did not announce his starter for the first game of this Saturday's doubleheader, but Triple-A Toledo's Robbie Ray seems like the most likely choice. Ray made three starts for the Tigers in May.

Worth noting

• Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks played his fourth game with Class A Advanced Lakeland on Saturday and finished 1-for-4. Dirks underwent offseason back surgery and has not appeared in a Major League game this season. He's hitting .308 (4-for-13) during a rehab assignment that began on Tuesday.

Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.