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 Charlie Furbush gets first crack as Brad Thomas hits 15-day DL

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PostSubject: Charlie Furbush gets first crack as Brad Thomas hits 15-day DL   Sun May 22, 2011 11:55 pm

Furbush gets first crack as Thomas hits DL
By Jason Beck / | 05/21/11 11:18 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Furbush's rapid rise through the Tigers farm system has landed him his first shot in the big leagues. The Tigers called up the deceptive left-hander from Triple-A Toledo on Saturday morning to take the place of lefty reliever Brad Thomas, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation.

Furbush, who some have projected him as an eventual strikeout lefty in the Majors, makes the trip from Toledo, presumably to fill Thomas' bullpen spot. His numbers at Toledo this year, and at three different levels last year, came as a starter with multiple out pitches. After ranking second among all Minor League pitchers last year with 183 strikeouts over 159 innings, the 25-year-old southpaw leads the International League with 55 strikeouts over 46 1/3 innings this season with the Mud Hens.

Just as impressive, and indicative of a big step in his development, he has managed to largely hold down hitters even when they put the ball in play. His 4-3 record over eight starts belies a 2.91 ERA, which kept him in some low-scoring affairs. Two of his starts were one-hit performances over seven and eight innings, the latter coming in defeat against Charlotte on the same day Justin Verlander pitched his no-hitter at Toronto.

The numbers and the pitching made Furbush one of the primary prospects to watch in Toledo, alongside fellow lefty Andy Oliver, while another southpaw, Duane Below, has pitched himself into the conversation. Speculation had been building for Furbush and Oliver to get their shot shortly if they kept up the stingy pitching.

Furbush's opportunity came from injury with Thomas, whose left elbow locked up on him Friday and left him unavailable for the series opener here against the Pirates. Thomas was scheduled to be checked out Saturday morning, but the Tigers couldn't wait long without a roster move. His absence for any stretch would've left Daniel Schlereth as the lone left-hander in Detroit's bullpen.

While there was talk out of Spring Training about the Tigers possibly getting by with one lefty, that depended on having an effective Joaquin Benoit pitching the eighth inning and the fastball of a healthy Joel Zumaya for the seventh. Neither of those have happened so far, though Benoit looked more like last year's form in a mop-up inning Friday night.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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