DETROIT — If you had asked Buck Farmer a month ago where he thought he would be on Aug. 13, pitching in Comerica Park for the Detroit Tigers would not have been on his list. As it turns out though, that's just where he wound up.
As a result of several injuries, an inept defense and a sleeping offense for the better part of a week, the Tigers drained not only their bullpen options but their starting rotation as well. You know the rest, the Tigers slipped below first place for the first time since June 17 and found themselves scrambling for replacements.
With no other options, they brought up Farmer, who had just been promoted to Double-A Erie and had all of two starts to his name there. After the events of the past week, the best the Tigers would hope for was that he would pitch well enough to give the team a chance, without having to further deplete an already taxed bullpen.
Farmer not only gave the Tigers a chance for a win but his outing — while not perfect — resulted in a promotion to Triple-A Toledo following the game.
"I got the call actually two days ago," Farmer said. "I was just laying in my bed — we had an off-day in Erie, and I was just watching a movie, and I got the call. They were like ‘you fly out tomorrow afternoon.'" (h/t Dana Wakiji, FOX Sports Detroit)
Farmer immediately called his father — who, along with his family was in attendance for the game — and told him the news. His family was "ecstatic" upon hearing it. Once in Detroit, Farmer did his best to take everything in before getting to work but the nerves were there. That didn't mean that his approach to preparing for the game had changed, but when you go from Single-A to Double-A and then the big leagues in less than a month, it can be a little overwhelming.
"Really same thing as I would any other day," Farmer said. "It was one of those things where it was different circumstances. It was the big leagues, as compared to anything else. This is the thing, this is the dream of every kid, so it was just a little more nerve-wracking."
Like any major life event, there's no way around the nerves. Overthinking the opportunity or his pitching wouldn't do any good so Farmer just took it one step at a time and focused on the game and the voice of his dad, who was the only one Farmer would allow himself to hear. In fact, he's so used to tuning into his father's voice, it was the only one he did hear.
In some ways the first inning was the hardest simply because of the nerves, but you wouldn't have been able to tell if you looked at the scoreboard in the first few innings. Once past that hurdle of nervousness, Farmer was able to settle in and enjoy the experience, the good, and the not so great. Keeping in mind that he basically skipped a few baseball grades for a day, Farmer took on the Pirates, holding his own.
Even when he gave up three runs in the fourth inning, Farmer said he wasn't worried. Instead, he slowed everything down, both on the field and in his mind, and continued to pitch; at his own pace. He remembered that he controlled the game, and in the end it paid off as well as anyone could have expected.
"My expectations are always high for myself," Farmer said. "That's just the way I am. I was happy with everything, just from being in Double-A two weeks ago, to being here now, I loved every minute of it."
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus didn't really know anything about Farmer prior to his debut on Wednesday, having met him only hours before the game. But what he did see was encouraging. Ausmus may not have seen any Single-A players in the Tigers organization playing at the major league level as of late, but it didn't change the fact that Farmer gave the Tigers what they needed; a chance to win.
"I think the big thing for him was that he was able to throw strikes with his offspeed pitches, especially his slider I think that was the big thing for him," Ausmus said.
No sooner had the game ended than Farmer was pulled aside to be informed that he had been optioned back to the minors. However, he wasn't returning to the Erie SeaWolves. As a result of Wednesday's outing, Farmer was given a promotion to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.
Given the fact that the Tigers have a doubleheader on Aug. 23, if they were to need Farmer to make another start they needed to option Farmer immediately as the 10-day waiting period to call up a 26th player would end that day. For now though, Farmer gave the Tigers and fans what they needed; a win and hopefully the start of a positive homestand.