Michael Fulmer

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Michael Joseph Fulmer

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Biographical Information[edit]

Michael Fulmer was a supplemental first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft.

Fulmer had a 10-2, 0.72 record as a high school senior, with 127 strikeouts in 68 innings. He also hit .436 as a corner infielder. He had a commitment to the University of Arkansas when the New York Mets took him with the 44th pick of the 2011 draft. The choice was compensation for the loss of Pedro Feliciano to free agency. It was New York's second pick, following Brandon Nimmo. The scout was Steve Gossett.

Fulmer made his pro debut in 2011, posting a 10.13 ERA in 4 outings for the GCL Mets. He then spent 2012 with the Savannah Sand Gnats where he was 7-6, 2.74 in 21 starts. Injuries then limited him to 9 games and a record of 3-3, 3.33 in 2013, mainly with the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League. Back with St. Lucie in 2014, he was 6-10, 3.98 in 19 starts and also made one start with the AA Binghamton Mets. After one start with St. Lucie in 2015, he moved up to Binghamton and pitched well in the Eastern League, with a record of 6-2, 1.88 in 15 starts. On July 31st, the Mets traded him along with Luis Cessa to the Detroit Tigers in return for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. He spent the rest of the year with the Erie SeaWolves, still in the EL, where he was 4-1, 2.84 in 6 starts, for a combined mark of 10-3, 2.24 in22 starts. He was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year after the season.

Michael began the 2016 season by getting his first look at AAA ball, going 1-1, 4.11 in 3 starts for the Toledo Mud Hens. He was called up to the Motor City to make his debut on April 29th, and he made it a winning one, tossing 5 innings and allowing 2 runs to the Minnesota Twins in a 9-2 Tigers victory. After a few so-so outings, he began to get hot in late May, as he reeled off four straight wins beginning on May 21st. He gave up one run in 7 innings that start against the Tampa Bay Rays, then did not allow a run in any of the next three, while twice pitching into the 8th, and going 6 innings the other time. After an 11-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on June 6th, his record had improved to 6-1, 2.83 in 8 starts. He then had another start in which he did not allow any runs on June 12th, when he held the New York Yankees­ scoreless over 6 innings before leaving the game. The Tigers won, 4-1, giving him his 7th win and his streak of scoreless innings was now at 28 1/3. It eventually reached 33 1/3 innings until a 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on June 17th. On August 14th, he pitched a four-hit shutout that was also his first career complete game in defeating the Texas Rangers, 7-0. The performance now gave him the best ERA in the American League at 2.25. He was the first Tigers rookie to throw a shutout since teammate Justin Verlander had done so in 2006. He finished the season at 11-7, 3.06 in 26 starts, with 132 strikeouts in 159 innings. On November 15th, he was voted the winner 2016 American League Rookie of the Year Award.

Fulmer picked off in 2017 where he had left off the previous season, going 9-6, 3.19 in 17 starts over the first half. At that point, he had the best ERA of any American League pitcher dating back to the start of the 2016 season and was named to the All-Star team for the first time, although he could not take part in the game because of the Sunday Starter rule. However, he was one of the lone bright spots in a disappointing half for the Tigers, and a number of journalists began to speculate on moves that the team should make to rebuild for the future. A number of them identified Fulmer as the player holding the most current trade value and urged the front office to consider trading him for a package of top prospects. General Manager Al Avila quickly threw cold water on this type of speculation, stating that Fulmer was one the players around which the Tigers wanted to build for the future. On August 3rd, he was placed on the disabled list because of fluid build-up in his pitching elbow, a condition that required a season-ending operation. He ended up at 10-12, 3.83 for the season, pitching 164 2/3 innings in 25 starts,

He started the 2018 season slowly and at the All-Star break only had a 3-9 record with a 4.50 ERA in 19 games. Discussions about whether or not he should be traded were raging once again, as had been the case after his rookie season, but this time it was to salvage what value remained in him, and not to cash in one of the team's few valuable chips in an effort to accelerate a full reconstruction. In any case, the pressure may have got to Fullmer as after his final start of the first half on July 14th, he went off on a major rant directed at home plate umpire Pat Hoberg: "The guy was god-awful today. It was a bad day for him. The guy behind the plate was just god-awful." The day was also not so hot for Michael, as he gave up 7 runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings in a 9-1 loss to the Houston Astros. He was not traded, in the end, and finished the year at 3-12, 4.69 in 24 starts. he missed a full month of action between mid-July and mid-August and did not pitch again after allowing 2 runs without recording an out on September 15th because of problems with his right knee. Bad news continued in spring training in 2019, as he was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his pitching elbow. He had to undergo Tommy John surgery, wiping out his whole season.

Notable Achievements[edit]

AL Rookie of the Year
2015 2016 2017
Carlos Correa Michael Fulmer Aaron Judge

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jason Beck: "Fulmer rolls to Tigers' 5th AL ROY Award: Pitcher nets 26 of 30 first-place votes from BBWAA", mlb.com, November 14, 2016. [1]
  • Jason Beck: "Fulmer on track to be ready for Spring Training: Tigers righty: 'Everything is going fantastic' 4 months after elbow surgery", mlb.com, January 10, 2018. [2]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Once a Tigers rookie phenom, Verlander takes Fulmer under his wing", Detroit Free Press, August 19, 2016. [3]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Detroit Tigers' Michael Fulmer shifts from pitching to plumbing: Potential AL Rookie of the Year spends his off-season digging ditches, fixing faucets", Detroit Free Press, November 13, 2016. [4]
  • Brian Manzullo: "Is Tigers' Michael Fulmer in the Cy Young conversation?", Detroit Free Press, August 15, 2016. [5]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Tigers' Michael Fulmer near-unanimous AL rookie of the year winner", USA Today Sports, November 15, 2016. [6]

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