In a moment of cathartic clarity – and perhaps confession – Michael Fulmer let loose on Sunday after feeling he had dropped his Detroit Tigers in an 8-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians that sewn a series sweep.
Fulmer is part of a starting rotation that suffers from injuries and poor performance, resulting in five consecutive losses. But he sees himself as the weak link in that rotation as he continues the long work of coming back from Tommy John’s surgery.
“It sucks,” he said. “We are all frustrated. We know we can perform better, we know we should perform better, and we know we need to perform better.
“And I think it honestly starts with me because I feel like I’m that crutch on the spin, the crutch on the paddock because of my pitch limit.
Fulmer was scheduled to pitch no more than three innings and he went 2 ⅔, throwing 58 shots, allowing three runs on five hits, two walks and two strikeouts. The three runs came on home runs from Franmil Reyes, who hit a fastball into the zone in the second inning, and Fransico Lindor, who took advantage of a below-par slider and hit a two-run homer in the second inning. the third.
Fulmer said he is feeling really good after Lindor’s home circuit. He got the next two hitters but was struck out in favor of southpaw Tyler Alexander, who faced southpaw hitter Tyler Naquin.
The Tigers starter said he was not told why he was pulled, but admitted it was difficult to start a game knowing he was on a pitch count or innings limit.
“Still having that starting pitcher mentality,” he said, “you’re fighting for the late innings, the fifth, sixth, seventh innings, which is what you’re going to do to get there. But as far as the mentality goes for just a three or 2 ⅔ run start it’s tough like I said it’s like you have to be perfect and obviously I just wasn’t today .
The good news for Fulmer is that he has seen progress in his third start this season, which is also only his third start since September 2018.
“I can only go out and feel as good as possible,” he said. “The three starts so far, I felt good. It’s a positive sign and I hope as the season progresses I can continue to develop a bit and do what I need.
“At the end of the day, that’s the call (of manager Ron Gardenhire) and that of (pitching coach) Rick Anderson and I’m going to trust them and whatever they think. I have had three departures since Tommy John’s surgery. Three real starts. Like I said, I can’t find any excuse because I know I should be better.
But Fulmer was also keen to say he remembered the positives. Even through his own frustrations and the hardships of the team, he feels good about his recovery and believes he is on the right track to feeling normal again.
“It’s just going to take a little while,” he says. “I hope that three starts are enough. But I think every time I left I felt better and better about my mechanics, my stuff with just a little bit of hit-and-miss here and there. So I see the positives in everything. ”
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