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Tigers release starting pitching schedule for beginning of 2017 season

Justin Verlander gets Opening Day start in Chicago

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers officially revealed their starting pitching schedule for the first week of the 2017 season.

Justin Verlander will take the mound Monday when the Tigers begin the season in Chicago. After an off day, Jordan Zimmermann will pitch Wednesday and Daniel Norris will polish off the series Thursday.

Michael Fulmer earned the start for the home opener Friday, when the Tigers welcome Boston to Comerica Park.

Matt Boyd, fresh off an excellent spring in which he earned a spot in the starting rotation, will pitch Saturday.

Verlander (Sunday) and Zimmermann (Monday) will finish the four-game series against Boston as the rotation flips back to the top.

Verlander returned to ace form last season, posting a 1.00 WHIP and striking out 254 batters in 227.2 innings. He was the most valuable pitcher in baseball, finishing with a 6.6 WAR.

Zimmermann landed on the opposite end of the spectrum -- battling injuries and inconsistencies en route to a replacement-level performance. At $18 million, the Tigers are paying him to be their No. 2 pitcher. If he can regress closer to his career numbers -- around 200 innings, a 1.18 WHIP and seven strikeouts per nine innings -- he'll come close to filling that role.

Norris and Fulmer are the top young pitchers in the organization and are coming off very good 2016 seasons. Fulmer was the AL Rookie of the Year and Norris never allowed more than three runs in 13 starts. Consistency will be the key as both young starters look to strengthen the middle of the rotation.

Boyd is an ideal No. 5 starter because he's already good enough to be in an MLB rotation and he also has No. 3 starter upside.

If the Tigers hope to compete with the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central Division, they can't afford to get off to a slow start. With a weak bullpen and questions at the end of the lineup, the starting rotation will be asked to shoulder a lot of the load.