Farmer set to make spot start Wednesday

Farmer set to make spot start Wednesday

PITTSBURGH -- The Tigers were being touted as World Series contenders for a rotation deep enough that Rick Porcello was their fifth starter. Less than two weeks later, they're looking to Robbie Ray and Buck Farmer for starts in crucial games in the thick of a playoff race.

Ray will start Tuesday's against the Pirates at PNC Park, followed by Farmer to open the Detroit portion of the home-and-home series Wednesday at Comerica Park.

For Ray, the move was expected. The return prospect in the Doug Fister trade was the next starter in line at Triple-A Toledo, and was pronounced as the fill-in for injured Anibal Sanchez when the Tigers announced Sunday morning he was headed to the disabled list.

Farmer, however, was a surprise, and not just for the name. He was a fifth-round Draft pick last year out of Georgia Tech and made 18 starts at Class A West Michigan before starting two games for Double-A Erie.

Combine the two levels, and the 23-year-old right-hander is 11-5 with a 2.65 ERA, allowing 101 hits over 115 2/3 innings with 28 walks and 127 strikeouts. But of course, he has done so against younger competition.

The success vaulted him into the eighth spot on MLB.com's list of top Tigers prospects. His ETA to the Majors, however, was listed at 2016.

His biggest advantage going into his Major League debut will be that so few teams have seen him that there'll be little from which to create a scouting report.

"He's pitched very well," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "He's got good stuff. Ideally, you'd have more development time. I haven't seen him myself really, maybe one start. Our guys like him. Actually, that's why we moved him to Double-A, because we were concerned about if we need extra pitching down the road, at least to give him some exposure at the next level, and he's pitched very well there twice."

Farmer is not on the 40-man roster, so the Tigers will have to open a spot. They'll also have to create a spot on the 25-man roster.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.