Detroit Tigers Recall Buck Farmer, Option Drew VerHagen


Detroit Tigers brass made a move in the bullpen, sending Drew VerHagen to Triple-A and recalling Buck Farmer.

Detroit Tigers relievers, for the most part, have started the season off positively. New closer Francisco Rodriguez has a sparkling 1.84 ERA since Opening Day, and Justin Wilson owns a 1.78 FIP. What’s more, left-hander Kyle Ryan has a 2.89 ERA in 18.2 innings pitched.

However, one reliever who has struggled is Drew VerHagen.

VerHagen, who pitched to a 2.05 ERA in 26.1 innings down the stretch last season, has already allowed more runs (15) than he did last year (six).

The right-hander’s ERA comes out to 7.11 in 19 innings. That number has included surrendering 15 runs, seven walks and three home runs. He’s only struck out 10 batters during that span.

Detroit Tigers management has decided to send the struggling reliever down to Triple-A Toledo. In a corresponding move, fellow pitcher Buck Farmer has been recalled from the Mud Hens.

The case could be made that Farmer wasn’t ready for the big leagues during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. In 49.2 combined innings, the former fifth-round pick pitched to an 8.15 ERA and a 6.50 FIP. He was tagged for 65 hits, 47 runs, 22 walks and 12 home runs. Farmer also hit five batters and threw a wild pitch.

However, despite the struggles, things have been much different this season.

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Farmer has only appeared in five games at the Major League level in 2016 (8.1 innings pitched), but he has a solid 2.16 ERA to go along with 10 strikeouts compared to just three walks. In fact, over the 25-year-old’s last four big league outings, he’s only allowed two hits and no runs—not to mention 10 swinging strikes.

The right hander has also been effective in the minor leagues as a starting pitcher, tossing 17 innings while posting a 3.71 ERA.

Given that he’s been strictly a starter with Toledo, and that three of his outing at the Major League level have lasted two innings or more, Farmer would be a candidate to eat some innings.

For the Tigers, he could be a swingman of sorts, able to soak up multiple innings out of the bullpen while also capable of making a spot start. Farmer could be a candidate to step in for Jordan Zimmermann should the former National be forced to miss any time.

The move to call up Farmer gives the Detroit bullpen some significant depth, as both he and the recently called-up Warwick Saupold can both potentially pitch multiple innings during an appearance. Either could step into the rotation briefly, especially if Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez continue to struggle.

Next: Potential Anibal Sanchez Replacements

Farmer and Saupold’s ability to pitch more than a single frame can also ease the pressure on Michael Fulmer’s pitch count as the season progresses.