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Tigers welcome back significant bullpen piece in Buck Farmer

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

The Tigers were able to make a significant and important addition to their roster before Thursday’s game in Chicago.

Relief pitcher Buck Farmer was activated from the 10-day injured list. In a corresponding move, reliever Carson Fulmer was designated for assignment.

Farmer, the Tigers’ setup man to closer Joe Jimenez, was injured Aug. 9 in Pittsburgh while attempting to cover first base on a ground ball.

Buck Farmer

Manager Ron Gardenhire, talking to reporters on a Zoom call before Thursday’s game, noted the importance of getting back Farmer.

“That means a lot,” Gardenhire said. “He’s our setup guy, so we’ve missed him. Buck brings a lot to the table. This allows us to get these other guys in the right situations where we think they’ll do the best.”

Farmer went into Thursday’s game with a 2.84 ERA while pitching in 6⅓ innings. Over the past year, Farmer has developed into one of the more reliable setup relievers in the league.

More: How did Casey Mize's debut stack up against other 1-1 pitchers?

“Getting the ball to your closer, he’s been as good starting last year and taking over that role, he’s been as good as anybody,” Gardenhire said. “He has that changeup that is as good as you’re going to see and his fastball is mid-90s now.

“He’s really made himself into a product, as far as pitching goes, made himself a name, and it’s nice to have him back. I can tell you, he’s one of those guys you lean on.”

Gregory Soto (0-1, 4.76 ERA) struggled the past two games against the White Sox. On Wednesday, Soto allowed home runs to Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion in the eighth inning, snapping a 3-3 tie and sending the White Sox to a 5-3 victory.

But Gardenhire was supportive of Soto and the work the left-hander has done to this point.

“Soto threw the ball good (Wednesday),” Gardenhire said. “The first home run Abreu hit, goodness gracious. That ball was 98 miles per hour and shoulder high and we thought it was a pop fly.

“He made a mistake pitch to Encarnacion. But he’s been throwing fine. That’s what happens when you’re facing hot teams. They jump you and you make one bad pitch and it seems to go out of the park — and not a base hit.”

Soto took Wednesday’s defeat hard, said Gardenhire, who reiterated to Soto the game was an example of life in the major leagues.

“I told him you’re throwing the ball great, but it’s going to happen. These guys are going to click on you every once in a while and you’re going to have to live with it,” Gardenhire said. “From what he’s done up to this point, we didn’t really know if he was going to throw the ball over enough, and he’s done fine.

“He’s had a couple of bouts where they’ve hit him a little bit and a bout where he misfired a little bit. But he’s a young pitcher with a great arm. We’re trying to make him into something of a good bullpen piece and we think it’s going to work out for us.

“Everyone is going to have one of those outings where it doesn’t go your way but we like this young man. He’s a powerful guy.”

As for Fulmer, 26,  the right-hander is out of options and he must first clear waivers before being sent to the minor leagues.

Fulmer was claimed on waivers from the White Sox on July 25 and had a 6.75 ERA in 6⅔ innings with the Tigers, walking three and striking out seven hitters.

Looking for offense

Starting pitching has been an issue, but the Tigers simply haven’t gotten scored enough runs either during the eight-game losing streak.

Gardenhire maneuvered his lineup Thursday, dropping Niko Goodrum from second to batting fifth, while moving JaCoby Jones from ninth to second in the batting order. Jeimer Candelario, after providing some punch Wednesday, remained atop the order.

“Going against different pitchers, that’s kind of what it’s all about, you move around your lineup,” Gardenhire said. “That’s kind of where we’re at. That’s baseball, that’s the way it goes. We’re just staying involved in it and it’s good we try different things.”

Gardenhire felt with the additions of Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, the starting pitching could stabilize. But it was the offense that Gardenhire had some concerns.

“Offensively I’m a little more worried,” Gardenhire said. “We have some kids out there trying to find themselves again. Losing (C.J.) Cron really hurt us and we’re trying to replace that as we speak and we’ll see how that goes.

“But scoring some runs takes some pressure off the pitching and that would help right now.”

Pleased with Mize

A day later, Gardenhire was still more than satisfied with the performance of Mize in his major league debut against the White Sox.

Mize went 4⅓ innings, allowing three runs while striking out seven and not allowing a walk.

“He did fine,” Gardenhire said. “He prepares as well as anybody. His pregame stuff is real good. He knows what he has to do to get his body ready.”

Gardenhire felt the emotion of making a first major league start eventually tired Mize, who should be stronger and able to go deeper into games as time moves along.

“He threw the ball good, made a few mistakes late and that’s when we thought he was getting a little tired mentally and physically,” Gardenhire said. “But he’ll be fine. This guy has got it going on.”

On deck: Indians

Series: Three-game series at Progressive Field

First pitch: Friday-Saturday — 7:10 p.m.; Sunday — 1:10 p.m.

TV/radio: All games on FSD/97.1

Probables: Friday — RHP Michael Fulmer (0-0, 7.56) vs. RHP Adam Plutko (1-1, 3.95); Saturday — LHP Matthew Boyd (0-3. 9.64). vs.  TBA; Sunday — LHP Tarik Skubal (0-1, 18.00) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.71)

Fulmer, Tigers: Still finding his way after missing most of last season to injury, Fulmer went 2⅔ innings last Sunday against Cleveland, allowing five hits and three earned runs. He has allowed 13 hits and seven earned runs over 8⅓ innings this season.

Plutko, Indians: The Tigers got to Plutko fairly well in their last meeting, with six hits and three earned runs over just 2⅔ innings of work. Plutko has only allowed six runs over 13⅔ innings this season.

Twitter: @tkulfan