ST. PETERSBURG -- For the second time in as many months, Shane Greene is out of the Tigers' rotation. This time, he's headed to the bullpen, rather than Triple-A Toledo.
What looked on the surface like a swap of long relievers was instead the rotation change that was expected coming off Greene's latest rough outing Sunday night against the Red Sox. Buck Farmer, recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Monday afternoon, will take Greene's rotation spot, and he is scheduled to pitch Friday at Baltimore.
Farmer is available to pitch out of the bullpen the next couple nights, according to manager Brad Ausmus. He takes the spot of Kyle Ryan, who was optioned to Toledo after pitching Sunday night in relief of Greene.
Greene gave up five runs on 11 hits over 4 1/3 innings, with the bulk of the damage coming in his fifth and final inning. It marked his sixth consecutive Tigers start lasting less than five innings. He has given up 17 runs on 24 hits over 13 2/3 innings since his return on July 12.
It's a far cry from the starter who gave up one earned run over 23 innings in his first three starts this season. Right now, they're trying to figure out why.
"We still believe that his stuff that we've seen in the past, going all the way back to when he was with the Yankees [last year], can be electric at times," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Right now, we're not quite seeing the same pitcher. We're hoping that putting him in the 'pen will allow him to work in short spurts and get him back on track."
Those spurts, rather than simple long relief, will allow Ausmus to pick and choose his spots with Greene and try to limit matchups with left-handed hitters, who are batting .364 with a 1.023 OPS against him.
Farmer, ranked the Tigers' third-best prospect by MLB.com, made two spot starts for Detroit on May 28 and June 24, taking losses in both without getting through the sixth. He made a long-relief appearance July 11 against the Twins and threw 66 pitches over 3 1/3 innings.
Farmer has been exclusively a starting pitcher for Triple-A Toledo, compiling a 7-3 record and a 4.15 ERA in 16 outings.
The moves keep the Tigers' bullpen at eight pitchers as Ausmus tries to handle a relief corps that has been heavily taxed with innings over the past week, both with extra-inning games and quick exits by struggling starters such Greene. It also helps address the identity crisis for Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy, allowing Ausmus to use them in tight situations and short appearances rather than saving them for long work.
Ryan had been recalled for that purpose on Sunday and ended up throwing 39 pitches over 1 2/3 innings Sunday night, allowing three runs on five hits with two strikeouts.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.