With the season going the way that it is, Detroit Tigers fans don’t have a whole lot to be excited about. The team has had more ups and downs than a Cedar Point roller coaster. One of the highs for the Tigers this season, though, has been the emergence of rookie phenomenon Michael Fulmer. The hype for Fulmer is as high as the ceiling of potential for the 23 year old.
He arrived to the Detroit Tigers last year at the trade deadline in the midst of their last-place finish season in 2015. Coming over to the Tigers in a trade for Yoenis Cespedes, Fulmer has provided a spark in the rotation that has been hit with inconsistency and injuries. As fans marvel at Fulmer and declare his starts as must-see events, his season is reminiscent to that of future MVP and Cy Young-winning Justin Verlander from 2006.
But, how must does this hot start resemble the team’s ace?
It’s only been 13 starts so far, but his season has him on track to beat the numbers that J.V. put up in his first full season wearing the Old English D. Here are some numbers for comparison:
He may have pitched five innings less than Verlander did during his rookie campaign, but Fulmer is ahead of the ace’s rookie numbers in terms of giving up fewer hits, runs, earned runs, and homeruns allowed. He’s also racked up about two-thirds more strikeouts than Verlander did, and he is more than a full run lower than Verlander. Verlander went on to finish with 117.1 innings pitched, a 4.07 ERA, 120 strikeouts, and 53 earned runs. At the rate that Fulmer is going, this is the way his numbers would compare to Verlander’s.
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It’s going to be difficult for him to keep the ERA and the strikeouts that low all season. At some point this season, especially as hit faces teams multiple times throughout the year, he will see a decrease in his strikeout rate and his earned runs average will most likely be elevated at some point this season. However, he is certainly on track to put up numbers that will keep him atop the race for Rookie of the Year in the American League. On this team, it’s hard to argue against him being the team’s M.V.P. He’s been the most consistent force of the team (besides maybe Ian Kinsler’s great season thus far).
Yoenis Cespedes was a fan favorite here in Detroit, but seeing the benefits of that trade are being reaped instantly for the Detroit Tigers organization. Injuries and minor set-backs are an inevitable part of baseball, but if remains this type of pitcher in his Tigers tenure, he should continue to be must-see television when he starts, and could be a major piece in pushing the Tigers back into serious contention.