New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez hits a first-inning, RBI single in a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens
August 04, 2014

NEW YORK -- About a year ago at this time, Michael Fulmer was starting to gain some notice for how he was pitching with Double-A Binghamton as a prospect for the New York Mets.

A month later, the Detroit Tigers found themselves in the rare position of selling at the trading deadline when they dealt Yoenis Cespedes to New York.

The reward for the trade is Fulmer, and he takes an impressive run of effectiveness for the Detroit Tigers into Sunday's series finale with the New York Yankees.

The former first-round pick of the New York Mets began 2015 out of the top 10 in any prospect rankings. When last year ended, he was Detroit's top prospect for going a combined 10-3 with a 2.14 ERA in the Eastern League.

And Fulmer has lived up to the billing in the last month.

"It's been a roller coaster, it really has from going with the Mets playing in Double-A, to the trade," Fulmer said Friday. "Right now, it's a high obviously and I'm loving every minute of it."

Fulmer has a streak of 22 1/3 scoreless innings, the third longest for a Detroit rookie. He is 4-0 with an 0.32 ERA in his last four starts and the Elias Sports Bureau said he is the fourth rookie to win four consecutive starts with such a miniscule ERA since 1984.

So what can Fulmer's success be attributed to?

The answer is the changeup. It is a pitch he knew he had but really had not started using until this year. Fulmer said he didn't really feel anything positive clicking with it until throwing it before a May 21 start against Tampa Bay.

Starting with that start, pitch F/X data says he has thrown the pitch 71 times with an average velocity of around 86 mph.

"I've had it since about 2012," Fulmer said Friday afternoon. "Nobody must have known it though.

"I've always trusted it and I think before my start against the Rays I had a bullpen where I threw about 30 of them. Something just clicked. I can't tell you what because I have no idea but something just clicked. Ever since it's worked and I've been throwing it and it's been working."

Fulmer will be hoping to follow the lead of Justin Verlander, whom he credited extensively with helping him learn more about the mental aspects of pitching in the major leagues.

Verlander led Detroit to a 6-1 win on Saturday by allowing one run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Ian Kinsler homered and had a career-high five RBIs. The second baseman and the rest of Detroit's offense will get its second look at Michael Pineda this month.

Although Pineda did not get a decision in New York's 5-4 win at Detroit on June 2, the right-hander allowed one run and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings while getting eight strikeouts.

Pineda was even better Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels when he allowed all three of his runs in the fifth inning and a season-low four hits in seven innings.

Pineda credited the success with a mechanical adjustment in his arm angle. It marked the first time since July 4 he pitched seven innings.

"He's a guy that has a lot of talent," Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran said Tuesday. "If he executes, he's going to be able to get people out."

And if the Yankees execute on the mound and at the plate, they will get back above .500 after having a five-game winning streak stopped Saturday.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)