March 15: Fulmer further discussed the shut down with McCosky, stating that he’s not sure how long it’ll take to build back up. As McCosky explains in greater detail, the right-hander had been wearing a brace on his surgically repaired knee that has since been swapped out for a compression sleeve.
“Maybe it was a little restrictive,” said Fulmer in reference to the brace. “Today was a step in the right direction as far as using my lower body and trying to drive toward home plate, as opposed to basically not using my lower body at all.”
Fulmer’s fastball velocity this spring had been hovering in the 90 to 92 mph range, per McCosky, which is a far cry from the 95.5 mph he’s averaged throughout his career. At present, there’s no defined timetable for Fulmer to be up to full strength, but it seems likely he’ll open the season on the injured list.
March 14: The Tigers have shut down righty Michael Fulmer, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports (Twitter links). Manager Ron Gardenhire says that Fulmer “took a step back to refine his lower body mechanics.”
Typically, pitchers only hit the shelf in mid-March if they are dealing with an arm problem or other injury. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, though it could be that the team sees some risk in allowing Fulmer to keep throwing. He underwent knee surgery last fall and has shown reduced velocity thus far this spring.
Fulmer, who’s slated to earn $2.8MM after losing an arbitration hearing, is a key asset for the rebuilding Detroit organization. While the team’s outlook for the coming season is poor regardless, the hope had been that Fulmer would get back on track after a rough 2018 season.
There’s still time for Fulmer to re-discover his established ceiling. He turns 26 tomorrow and has three more arb-eligible seasons beyond 2019. First, he’ll need to work through the issues that the club has identified.
As things stand, says Gardenhire, there’s “no timetable on when [Fulmer is] going to get back on the mound.” That leaves the door open for Daniel Norris or another hurler to earn a shot. Matt Hall, Ryan Carpenter, and Spencer Turnbull are among the other potential candidates with some MLB experience and 40-man spots.