Farmer, who had been sidelined with a left groin strain, will be back as the eighth-inning setup man, while left-hander Gregory Soto will likely shift back to a seventh-inning role. Farmer was off to a good start prior to his injury, allowing just two runs over 6 1/3 innings.
“Buck brings a lot to the table. He is our setup guy. This allows [our other relievers to go] in the right situations,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You are talking about your eighth-inning guy getting the ball to your closer. He has been good starting last year. He has been as good as anybody. He has a changeup that is as good as you are going to see. His fastball is mid-90s. He has made himself into a product.”
After allowing the game-winning runs in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the White Sox, Soto was upset about his performance. But Gardenhire gave him words of encouragement and assured him he would be fine. The Tigers expect Soto to be a quality bullpen piece. Entering Thursday’s action, Soto had allowed six runs in 11 1/3 innings but struck out 15. His fastball can top 100 mph.
“I went back in the training room and talked to him,” Gardenhire recalled. “I said, ‘Son, you are throwing the ball great. It’s going to happen that these guys are going to click on you once in a while. You have to live with it.’ What he has done up to this point, we didn’t know if he was going to throw the ball over the plate enough. He has done fine. He has a couple of bouts where they hit him. He is a young pitcher with a great arm.”
Fulmer appeared in seven games and allowed five runs over 6 2/3 innings.
Tigers still searching for consistent offense
Entering Thursday’s action, the Tigers were 9-13 and Gardenhire would like to see more consistency from the offense. The team was 21st in the Major Leagues with a .231 batting average. Losing first baseman C.J. Cron to season-ending left knee surgery hasn't helped.
Cron provided power from the right side of the plate, slugging four homers prior to the injury.
“Offensively, I’m a little more worried,” Gardenhire said. “We have some kids who are trying to find themselves again. Losing Cron hurt us. We are trying to replace him as we speak. We’ll see how that goes. Scoring runs takes pressure off the pitching. That would really help right now.”