Fulmer returns Friday, Sanchez back to bullpen

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Michael Fulmer

Detroit — Michael Fulmer is back. Anibal Sanchez is out.

The Tigers are finalizing their rotation for the rest of the first half of the season, and Fulmer, the rookie phenom whose last start was skipped so the team could try to keep his workload in check, will return to the rotation Friday for the second game of the four-game series at Tampa Bay.

That will give Fulmer a full eight days between starts.

His last start was June 22, when he went 4⅓ innings, allowing a run on three hits, a walk and two hit batters.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Tuesday night that Fulmer will be back on regular four days' rest through the All-Star break.

Finding him breaks will be done on a case-by-case basis in the second half of the season.

Sanchez, meanwhile, is heading back to the bullpen, Ausmus said.

"You're trying to do what you think is best to help you win games," Ausmus said.

Sanchez started Saturday against the Cleveland Indians, and while he was the best of the Tigers' three starters in that series, that wasn't saying much. He was tagged for two home runs, both in the first inning.

He's allowed 16 homers this season, an average of two per nine innings. That's up from his previous career high last season, of 1.7, and well above his career mark of 0.9.

Reality certainly seems to be setting in that the Tigers have on their hands a wildly expensive bullpen piece, who's still due about $9 million the rest of this season, $16.8 million next season, and another $5 million when they surely buy out his 2018 option.

Jordan Zimmermann will start the first game against the Rays, after Mike Pelfrey and Daniel Norris work the two-game Marlins series this week at Comerica Park.

Justin Verlander and Pelfrey should close out the Rays series.

The Tigers on Monday started a stretch of 13 games in 13 days leading up to the All-Star break. They have no more off-days before the All-Star break.