When an onslaught of killer pitching prospects rolled through the Mets farm system, Michael Fulmer looked like the least of the bunch. A capable righthander who never missed that many bats, Fulmer figured to lag behind Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and other, flashier young arms.
In less than two years, much has changed. Acquired by the Tigers at the 2015 trade deadline in the deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to New York, Fulmer has grown into one of the best young pitchers in the American League. In fact, he's doing more to help his team right now than any of those Mets horses except deGrom, thanks to a rash of injuries in Queens and Fulmer’s own stingy pitching.
The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year might look like he’s putting up identical results in 2017, with his ERA virtually unchanged this year (3.06 last year vs. 3.00 this year). In reality, Fulmer’s getting better. He’s getting ahead to start at-bats more often, he’s allowing less hard contact and he’s chopped his home-run rate nearly in half, now sporting the lowest such mark of any AL starting pitcher. By Fielding Independent Pitching, only Boston's Chris Sale and Tampa Bay's Chris Archer have fared better among AL starters.
At a time when teammate Justin Verlander looks like he has no idea where any of his pitches are going (a groin injury suffered Sunday might make matters worse), Detroit has to be thrilled that it landed The Met Who Got Away.