DETROIT – No Tiger aside from Miguel Cabrera had been on the team longer than Buck Farmer, who made his Major League debut at Comerica Park in August 2014. But nobody in the Tigers bullpen has had a tougher time than Farmer, having allowed 15 runs in 12 appearances.
Thus, Farmer is no longer a Tiger for now after he was designated for assignment Friday. If Farmer clears waivers, the Tigers can outright him to the Minor Leagues. Veteran swingman Erasmo Ramírez was called up from Triple-A Toledo to fill his spot.
The move is an example of some tough decisions the Tigers face as they contemplate roster moves amidst their worst start since 2003. Detroit will have to make room for outfielder Nomar Mazara once he completes his rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo, possibly as soon as this weekend.
“Everybody feels a sense of loss, and everybody feels a sense of awareness of their own situation,” manager A.J. Hinch said Friday afternoon. “Now, where they take it from here, we don’t want our players focused on what could happen if they don’t play well.”
The 30-year-old Farmer, a fifth-round Draft pick in 2013 who made his big league debut a year later, has been a part of Detroit’s bullpen since 2018, progressing from middle reliever to setup man. His 73 appearances in 2019 ranked fourth among American League pitchers. He was just outside the top 20 percent of Major League pitchers that year in fastball velocity and whiff rate, and had a chase rate in the top 16 percent last year despite a drop in his strikeout rate. He was a reliable reliever who could carry a lead or keep a team in a close game.
The Tigers built a young relief corps this year around Farmer, whose disastrous start to 2021 is part of a larger bullpen collapse. He gave up five runs over his first two appearances April 4-5 and never really got back to form. He did not record a 1-2-3 inning in any of his appearances. Six of his 15 hits allowed have been home runs, and the other nine were singles. He has almost as many walks (nine) as strikeouts (10) over 10 2/3 innings.
Farmer is out of Minor League options, so a DFA was the only way to get him to the Minors barring injury.
“It was tough,” Hinch said. “This is a guy who’s done a lot in this organization. He’s been around a long time, kind of seen it and done it all. He’s been very reliable in the past, and he was defeated [Thursday] during the game just trying to do something right. And so I feel for him, but yet, we wanted to get a fresh arm here. We’ll see where it takes Buck’s career, whether it’s with us or somewhere else. I have no doubt that he can figure it out. He’s got talent and he’s got a good arm and he knows how to pitch, but it just wasn’t happening for him multiple times in a row and it became troublesome for us.”
Ramos to injured list, Rogers returns
The last time Tigers fans saw Jake Rogers at Comerica Park, he batted 5-for-36 in September 2019 after being called up at the end of July. The Tigers’ No. 14 prospect has spent the last year and a half since then trying to show he can hit enough to get back to the Majors. He finally returned Friday, called up to replace the injured Wilson Ramos.
The Tigers placed Ramos on the 10-day injured list Friday with a lumbar spine strain. He left Thursday’s series finale at Boston with lower back issues. The injury isn’t serious, and he could be back after 10 days.
Rogers lost out to Grayson Greiner for the backup catching job in Spring Training, but will now share catching duties alongside him. The 26-year-old spent April at the alternate site in Toledo before opening the season with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens this week. He had a walk and three strikeouts in his lone game Tuesday while catching top pitching prospect Matt Manning and three relievers.
“He’s not a young kid anymore,” Hinch said. “He’s maturing, and he should be able to handle this. I don’t sense that there’s going to be any sort of pressure on him. It’s an opportunity.”
• Reliever Derek Holland, who went on the 10-day IL Thursday with a left shoulder strain, is likely a short-term injury situation. He isn’t expected to see a specialist, according to Hinch. Holland had been pitching through discomfort prior to going on the IL. He’ll wait a few days for inflammation to subside before beginning a throwing program.
• Franklin Perez, the Tigers’ No. 15 prospect, visited Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Thursday to get his injured right shoulder examined. The Tigers are expected to announce more information on his status this weekend.