As had largely been expected by this point, the Tigers announced today that righty Michael Fulmer has undergone surgery on his right knee. (Via MLB.com’s Jason Beck, on Twitter.) The repair work to his meniscus is not expected to prevent Fulmer from participating fully in Spring Training next year.
Fulmer, 25, went mostly backwards this year in a rebuilding season for the club. Though his 7.48 K/9 returned to the standard he’d set in his sterling rookie season of 2016, Fulmer gave up a career high 19 HR in just 132 2/3 IP, saw his walk rate spike a nearly a hitter per nine (3.13, from 2.19 in ’17), and allowed hard contact nearly 40% of the time in 2018. It was, by most accounts, a disappointing season for the former Rookie of the Year.
Still the crown jewel of a young Tigers rotation, Fulmer, a Super Two player, will embark on the first of his four arbitration-eligible seasons in 2019. He figures to reprise his role as a coveted trade candidate in the offseason, where teams will no doubt value his long period of control, mostly consistent strike-throwing, and lack of significant injuries to this point. It’s worth noting, too, that Fulmer’s average fastball velocity remained, at 95.8 MPH, one of the ten best in the league, so perhaps heretofore untapped upside is still in play.