DETROIT -- Left-hander Zach Britton joined the club in Detroit on Friday, and although the club hadn't officially ruled out using right-hander Steve Johnson, it was determined after the series-opening 5-3 loss that Britton will get the start on Saturday.
Johnson threw 28 pitches over two innings to end Thursday night's game and was available out of the bullpen again on Friday, though he was not used.
"He handled last night real well, I thought," manager Buck Showalter said on Friday of Johnson, who had seven days off in between outings. "So, you know, I want to be fair to Steve, too. ... Because even if he got through tonight and [I] didn't use him, how far can you expect to use him [on Saturday]? You want some length there."
Asked if the Tigers are more vulnerable to left-handed pitching, Showalter said, "They are not susceptible to anything. They are good. No, I know [Friday starter Tommy Hunter has] had a good outing against them and I know Zach struggled in an outing here last year, but our need supersedes that right now -- for a starting pitcher. I wish we didn't have to use Stevie last night. We didn't have any choice."
Britton made his first start on Thursday since being optioned to Triple-A and allowed six earned runs over 3 2/3 innings. He cracked the nail on his left index finger and struggled with command and finishing his pitches before being removed in the fourth inning.
"I think sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself to compete and you forget about executing pitches," said Britton who has gone 1-1 with an 8.10 ERA in five Major League starts. "That's really what I need to do now. I can't worry about, 'My ERA is here. I need to get it down here.' I need to take it pitch by pitch. It's a long season and it's a tight race, so I know I have to compete just like everyone else is doing on the team."
Britton struggled after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk the first time, posting just one quality start in five tries. The 24-year-old lefty started the season on the disabled list with an injury to his left shoulder, and it took him a while to regain his stuff and command.
"It's just a process," he said. "[Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair are] giving me a chance to see if it all comes around this outing. But it's good to know they see the progress. They're not just looking at the numbers. Sometimes I'm looking at the numbers and thinking, 'What the heck?' and I have these guys telling me, 'You know what? You're coming through something, and we see the signs of you getting back to where you used to be.' Hopefully, I can put it together for the rest of the season."