DETROIT -- The Tigers can pitch Max Scherzer on Sunday afternoon, and they can keep him on turn to make two more starts after that. The Major League strikeouts leader, who left his start Tuesday after just two innings due to shoulder fatigue, was cleared to start after throwing a 10-minute session Saturday afternoon.
"Everything felt good," Scherzer said. "My arm warmed up quick. My arm felt 100 percent. I was able to throw every pitch."
Scherzer will pitch the front end of Sunday's day-night doubleheader against the Twins. Drew Smyly, who had been an insurance option for Scherzer's spot until Friday's rainout, will pitch Sunday's nightcap.
Rick Porcello, whose scheduled start Friday night was rained out, will have his turn skipped in the rotation and will start next Wednesday against the Royals. Once Sunday became a doubleheader, Porcello was an option to pitch if Scherzer wasn't ready.
Instead, Porcello will spend the weekend available in the bullpen if needed, then prepare for Kansas City, a team against which he has fared much better than Minnesota. He has given up 27 hits in 13 2/3 innings against the Twins in 2012, including 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings during a start in July. Four of the 12 runs he has allowed to Minnesota have been unearned, accounting more than one-third of his total of unearned runs this year.
Prince continues to see steady diet of lefties
DETROIT -- Though expanded September rosters have multiplied the number of arms available in most bullpens for the stretch run, the one Tigers hitter most likely to see a difference from it hasn't been effected as much as was expected.
While the White Sox, for one, threw one lefty reliever after another at Prince Fielder in the late innings last week, the Detroit slugger is actually on pace for the same number of at-bats against lefties this month as he has been in most other months. He's gone 5-for-23 with seven walks and five strikeouts against lefties in September.
By contrast, Fielder went 9-for-39 with six walks and five strikeouts against southpaws in August.
For what it's worth, Fielder entered Saturday 9-for-40 with three home runs against right-handers in September.
Some of the differences depend on the opponent and left-handed starters, of course. Still, Fielder had eight at-bats against the White Sox in two games started by lefty Jose Quintana, plus three more at-bats in a Chris Sale start on Sept. 2.
More visibly, though, the White Sox used a trio of lefty relievers -- Donnie Veal, Leyson Septimo and Matt Thornton -- to try to hold down Fielder in late-inning situations. Veal, in particular, stands out, since he hasn't allowed a hit to a left-handed batter this season.
"Prince doesn't face a right-handed pitcher from the fifth inning on," manager Jim Leyland said Saturday.
Leyland has been a vocal critic of expanded September rosters and their impact on games during playoff races. He supports the idea of a rule requiring teams in September to designate a certain number of "active" players.