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Tigers Give Duane Below Wednesday Start Versus Athletics

It’s not as exciting a choice as Jacob Turner (ESPN.com agrees) — or even Charlie Furbush — would’ve been. But it might be the safest option.

The fifth spot in the Detroit Tigers’ starting rotation comes up for the first time since the All-Star break on Wednesday, and the man taking the mound against the Oakland Athletics will be Duane Below.

Below (pronounced “BEE-low”) will make his major league debut after spending six seasons in the Tigers organization. This season with Triple-A Toledo, he’s compiled a 9-4 record and 3.13 ERA in 18 starts, adding 83 strikeouts in 115 innings.

To give you an idea of what kind of pitcher you’ll be seeing on Wednesday, John Wagner of the Toledo Blade included these notes during his last start for the Mud Hens:

Below threw 20 pitches, 13 for strikes, in the first. His fastball sat at 90-92 mph (four at 90, one at 91, four at 92 and one at 93). Below threw a lot of breaking balls, especially curves, which sat at 78 mph (one at 79, three at 78, one at 76, and a bad one at 72). He also had one pitch at 85 (a slider, I believe, but it could have been a change-up).

TigsTown.com’s Mark Anderson says Below has one of the best curveballs in the Tigers’ system. He’s also been throwing his changeup less, trying to incorporate a cutter into his repertoire.

Below doesn’t seem likely to be the Tigers’ answer to their fifth starter question, given that this is the first time he’s appeared in the majors. But he’s pitched pretty well in the minors over the past three seasons and deserves a shot. At the very least, he can hopefully man fill that fifth spot suitably until the Tigers acquire a starting pitcher through trade. (That appears to be a near-certainty, given all the rumors currently surrounding them.)