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Top Prospects: Buck Farmer, RHP, Tigers

In need of another spot starter, the Tigers are reaching down into their farm system and plucking out a Farmer.

Buck Farmer that is, who will make his Major League debut Wednesday as the Tigers-Pirates home-and-home series shifts to Comerica Park.

Farmer, 23, was a fifth-round selection of Detroit in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, and while he's ranked by MLB.com as the eighth-best prospect in the organization, it's doubtful anyone expected to see the right-hander in the Motor City at this point in his career. Farmer has made just two starts in Double-A, where he was promoted earlier this month.

The Tigers' arms are in dire straits after a 19-inning affair with the Blue Jays on Sunday and Justin Verlander's Monday outing, which was limited to one inning as he left with right shoulder inflammation. The team's reshuffling of its rotation resulted in Robbie Ray being called up from Toldeo to start Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Pirates and an even more surprising call of Farmer on Wednesday.

Farmer has posted solid numbers this season, going a combined 11-5 with a 2.65 ERA and 1.115 WHIP in 20 Minor League starts. His outing Wednesday will be under the brightest of lights, and the Tigers are trying to snap out of a funk in which they've lost six of seven and have dropped to second place in the American League Central.

"He's got good stuff. Ideally, you'd have more development time," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said of Farmer. "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."

Vance Worley will pitch for the Pirates, and the righty has been a surprise in his own right since becoming a part of the rotation two months ago.

Worley has not allowed more than two runs in a start since July 8, and he has a 0.96 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break. He earned his fifth victory on Friday against the Padres with seven innings of five-hit, one-run ball.

Pirates: Trip to Detroit could result in at-bats for Alvarez
Pedro Alvarez's errant throwing arm has kept him out of the Pirates' starting lineup for nearly all of August.

While the team continues to experiment with the third baseman -- who's committed 23 throwing errors this season -- taking ground balls and throws at first base during practice, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Tuesday he's hoping to get Alvarez some more at-bats. Playing in Comerica Park for the next two games, Hurdle will have the perfect opportunity to play Alvarez while not worrying about his defense as the Bucs will get a designated hitter in their lineup for back-to-back contests.

Hurdle didn't commit to using Alvarez as the Bucs' DH in Detroit, but made it sound likely.

Alvarez has just one start this month, and began the transition to first after spending three days on the bereavement list. An All-Star last season, Alvarez has just five pinch-hit at-bats since being re-activated, and is 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

Tigers: MRI shows no major structural damage for Verlander
A day after Verlander had to be pulled after just one inning of work, the Tigers got some good news about their prized right-hander.

An MRI on Verlander's throwing shoulder showed "no major structural damage," according to manager Brad Ausmus.

"At this point, we don't expect him to go on the DL," Ausmus said. "We're still kind of evaluating what the treatment options are, but there's a possibility he may only have to miss a start and be back with us."

Ausmus did not rule out Verlander for his next scheduled start, which would come Sunday against Seattle, but did not know the immediate future of the 2011 AL MVP. Verlander, who was charged with five runs (four earned) and threw 40 pitches in his lone inning of work Monday, is scheduled to meet with Tigers physician Dr. Stephen Lemos on Wednesday.

Worth noting
• The next hit for Pirates catcher Russell Martin will be the 1,000th of his career. Martin is hitting .289 this season and was 1-for-4 on Tuesday.

• Ray reached base twice on Tuesday, first on a Jayson Nix error and then on an infield single off the glove of opposing starter Edinson Volquez. They were the first two plate appearances of Ray's Major League career.

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