Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer was one of the majors’ hardest-throwing starters from 2016-18, but his velocity has been anything but imposing early in 2019. As has been the case throughout the spring, Fulmer’s fastball sat in the 88 to 92 mph range during a 44-pitch outing Saturday, leading Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press to note that the soon-to-be 26-year-old “didn’t look right.” The Tigers aren’t confident Fulmer’s velocity will return, writes Fenech, which is an eyebrow-raising observation given that he’s one of the rebuilding team’s most valuable players and trade chips. But it’s worth noting Fulmer’s still in the early stages of his comeback from right knee surgery, and he and pitching coach Rick Anderson expressed confidence Saturday that his velocity will return, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News relays. If so, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year figures to stand a far better chance of rebounding from a disappointing, injury-shortened 2017 – a 132 1/3-inning campaign in which he logged career-worst numbers (4.69 ERA/4.52 FIP with 7.48 K/9 and 3.13 BB/9).
More on a couple other hurlers from the majors’ Central divisions…
- While Fulmer’s velocity has gone in the wrong direction this spring, the uptick Twins southpaw Martin Perez has experienced has impressed scouts, Dan Hayes of The Athletic notes (subscription required). As a member of the Rangers from 2012-18, with whom he had an unspectacular tenure, Perez’s average fastball clocked in at 93.5 mph. This spring, though, it has consistently reached the mid- to upper 90s – including across four shutout innings against the Pirates on Saturday. The increase may be attributable to a mechanical change the Twins made with Perez, whom they signed to a one-year, $4MM guarantee over the winter. The Twins have pushed Perez to incorporate his hips more into his delivery, Hayes details, and he has taken their advice. “All in from Day One,” assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner told Hayes. “He’s a joy to be around. One of the hardest workers we have.” If Perez’s velo gains stick, he could end up as a steal for the Twins, and may finally begin delivering on the hype he had during his days as a prospect.
- Reds left-hander Alex Wood, who has been dealing with back issues over the past couple weeks, suffered a setback after throwing a simulated game Friday, according to manager David Bell (via Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer). Wood hasn’t pitched in a Cactus League game since Feb. 25, and it could be at least another week before he makes an appearance, Nightengale suggests. Although Bell said Wood’s injury isn’t “a major concern,” the skipper’s nonetheless unsure whether the winter acquisition will be ready for the start of the season. Having picked Wood up in a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, the Reds are counting on the 28-year-old to serve as one of the anchors in what they hope will be a vastly improved rotation.