Detroit Tigers: Fulmer and Alexander to split fifth spot in rotation?

July 16th, 2020 in Tigers By Bob Heyrman

Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire suggests Michael Fulmer will try to pitch his way back into the teams’ fifth spot of the rotation.

With starter Daniel Norris out indefinitely in the COVID-19 protocol, the Detroit Tigers have an opening in their starting rotation.  Fulmer once touted as the ace in waiting has endured a bumpy road trying to return from Tommy John surgery.  Fulmer has been sidelined for about a year and a half, but as we anxiously await his return, I can’t help but wonder if he will be able to return to form.

I’ve suggested in the past that the Detroit Tigers should consider using their fifth and final spot in the starting rotation by alternating the young prospects within the organization start-to-start.  Why not use Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal?

With the MLB set to restart hoping to apply a 60-game sprint format, with expanded rosters, and no minor league baseball, it seems like the perfect opportunity to get these young highly touted prospects a chance to get their feet wet in the big leagues.

Generally, when a pitcher returns from Tommy John surgery, they tend to struggle with their command. In many cases, they’ve adapted their pitching mechanics, trying to try and prevent a reoccurring injury. We’ll see how Fulmer looks when he makes his first start that’s not just an inter-team exhibition game.

Fulmer’s role heading into the 2020 season was questionable.  The Detroit Tigers openly considered using him as a long-man in the bullpen, a pitcher that could provide the organization with multiple innings during a blowout or if an injury to as starter were to occur.

Maybe, Fulmer would be able to pitch well enough to earn his return to the rotation, but he’d be the perfect example of throwing with a pitch count.  Perhaps using Fulmer as an ‘opener’ is the most suitable route.  I’m not generally excited about having an ‘opener’ start ball games, but using it with the fifth spot in the rotation if the team is against using a young prospect in that spot isn’t the worst idea.

Tyler Alexander is expected to compete with Fulmer or even split duties with pitching at the backend of the Tigers starting rotation.  The duo may both hope to pitch three innings, in turn, splitting each start.  The southpaw Alexander tossed 53.1 innings last season en route to a 1-4 record with Detroit recording a 4.86 ERA to go with 1.398 WHIP.

Fulmer’s made 75 starts over three seasons with Detroit recording an overall record of 24-31, posting a respectable 3.81 ERA and 1.189 WHIP.

Expect the Detroit Tigers to deploy a starting rotation of Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Jordan Zimmermann, and Ivan Nova along with a Fulmer/Alexander combo to start the shortened 2020 season.