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Never satisfied: Fulmer searching for more precision

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Nothing against the stat itself, but Michael Fulmer has his own definition of a quality start, and, in his estimation, he did not have one on Saturday.

“No, not really,” he said after the Tigers’ 6-4 loss to the White Sox. “I expect better of myself, and I want this team to expect better out of me, too. I know I can do better, especially if I keep working on my stuff.

“Today was just one of those days where I had trouble throwing strikes and it came back to bite me.”

Fulmer’s performance was almost a carbon copy of his four other starts this season, all of them, by definition, quality starts. He went six innings and allowed three runs on four hits and three walks.

For an average pitcher, that’s a good day’s work. Fulmer, the reigning Rookie of the Year, doesn’t aspire to be average.

“It was just lack of command,” he said. “I feel like stuff was there for the most part, but walks will kill you. I just had trouble throwing strikes. I felt like my sinker was moving well, four-seam had decent life on it, change-up was good, slider was OK today.

“But ultimately just lack of command. I've got to do something to fix it.”

It’s been the same in all five starts. Erratic command and inconsistent slider, which leads to more foul balls and fewer swings and misses, with the result being a high pitch count. He needed 106 pitches to work through six innings Saturday.

“Yeah, the slider just hasn't been consistent enough for me,” he said. “I haven't been getting the swings and misses I wanted with it. I worked on it in between starts this time and thought it was a lot better.

“I threw some good ones, couple bad ones, but I just need to learn to be more consistent with it and all my pitches as well.”

Fulmer normally remains stoic on the mound, but his frustration was evident Saturday.

“It's always tough,” he said. “I'm trying to battle through bad command. I did all I can to fix it and maybe throw inside a little more or mix up my pitches a little more.”

His mood soured right from the start, walking two batters in the first inning.

“I walked a couple guys, then a broken-bat ground ball (RBI single),” he said. “If I don't walk those guys, then I get a shot at putting up a zero. It's not the way you want to start the game off, being in a hole 1-0.

“I just have to find a way to get through six, seven innings and give my team a chance to win.”

He hasn’t pitched poorly, by any measure. He hasn’t pitched as poorly as he feels he’s pitched. But he’s working between starts as if he’s truly struggling.

That’s a good thing.

Twitter @cmccosky