Tigers downplay 'red flags' in Fulmer’s delivery

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer works in the fifth inning in Saturday's game against the Angels.

Detroit — Michael Fulmer has heard it his entire professional life.

The way he throws a baseball, his violent, cross-firing motion, is putting his shoulder at risk. And yet, he’s had knee injuries and had bone spurs removed from his elbow, but no shoulder problems.

Baseball writer and analyst Tom Verducci referenced it during the Fox Sports 1 broadcast of the Tigers-Angels game Saturday night. He said there were “red flags” in Tigers rookie right-hander's delivery.

He talked about how Fulmer’s elbow started below his shoulder in his delivery, and the strain of trying to get on top of the baseball from that position and then firing across his body. He said there were organizations that would not even draft a prospect with that kind of delivery because of the risk of injury.

Fulmer’s reaction?

“It’s what’s got me here,” he said. “Until something stops working, then I guess I will cross that road when we get there.”

Fulmer pitched Saturday with two extra days of rest and was clearly out of sync mechanically, which exaggerated the “red flags” in his delivery.

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“Last night was a little more violent than I had been,” Fulmer said. “I felt good. I felt strong. Maybe I tried to overdo a few things. But once I started yanking balls, I tried to make adjustments and I couldn’t really make the adjustments that were necessary.”

Manager Brad Ausmus said there was no added concern about Fulmer because of his delivery.

“In fact, because of his size, I’m less concerned about it,” he said. “His body can handle a little more impact. When he’s pulling to the left side, it looks worse than normal. When you stay on-line, it’s a little smoother.”

Fulmer gave up three runs, all in the third, and battled through five innings. He is likely to have at least two extra days of rest before his next start, as well, because the Tigers are trying to limit his innings to make sure they don’t have to shut him down completely.

“I need to figure something out,” Fulmer said, referencing his between-starts routine. “I need to find something, a routine that works for me with these extra days off. I need something. Obviously, what I did last time didn’t work for me.”

He and catcher James McCann discussed a revised routine after the game.

“I didn’t pick up a ball for the first couple of days (after his start on Aug. 19),” he said. “Then I tried to start my workouts and running when there were five days before my start and act like that was my start day. But I never felt in sync.”

Fulmer was on the field throwing Sunday morning.

“We’re going to try something new this time,” he said. “But, bottom line, I need to do better. I take full responsibility for it. Just hope next time will be different.”

Twitter @cmccosky


Series: Three-game series at Comerica Park

First pitch: 7:10 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 1:10 p.m. Wednesday.

TV/radio: Monday-Wednesday — FSD, 97.1

Probables: Monday — RHP James Shields (5-16, 5.98) vs. LHP Matt Boyd (5-2, 3.63); Tuesday – RHP Anthony Ranaudo (0-1, 7.88) vs. LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.63); Wednesday – RHP Justin Verlander (14-7, 3.33) vs. LHP Chris Sale (15-7, 3.14).

Shields, White Sox —​ In four starts in August, the one-time ace has allowed 32 runs in 20 innings with a 2.40 WHIP and 11 homers. This will be the Tigers’ fourth shot against him, and they’ve tagged him for 15 runs in 16 innings.

Boyd, Tigers —​ He’s allowed three runs or less in his last eight starts and the Tigers are 7-1 in those games. Opponents are hitting just .205 against him since July 9, which is among the lowest in baseball in that stretch.