The Detroit Tigers have an interesting situation to think about as they start to shape and build out the roster this offseason. They are likely going to add another arm or two in the form of bullpen help or maybe a depth starter.
No matter what, the Detroit Tigers will have to decide what to do with right-handed pitcher Michael Fulmer. It was a rough return to the mound for Fulmer in 2020 after he missed all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery.
But, in 2021, he was able to flip the script and produce some much more exciting numbers and be a productive member of the Tigers pitching staff. However, his role had changed quite vastly. In 2016 when the Tigers brought up Fulmer, he was a starting pitcher, but those days may be over.
As a member of the bullpen, Fulmer was able to be a productive addition while settling into a bit of a closer role as well. Could this be his future? Fulmer may be able to lock down the Tigers closing job or at least put himself into a spot where he is trade bait.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer should be pushed into closer role.
As a bit of a multi-purpose guy in 2021, Fulmer appeared in 52 games for the Tigers, where he accumulated 69.2 innings pitched. He logged four starts and finished out 21 games, and was able to record 14 total games.
Fulmer pitched to a 2.97 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, where he also had 73 strikeouts to his credit. It’s hard to make some comparisons to his year-over-year performance since he was always a starter when he came into the league.
Things have changed, and the Tigers are utilizing Fulmer in a new role. If he can slot in as a closer there’s a lot of things that he can do to increase his value. First off, being a closer allows the Tigers a steady option for the ninth inning, not to mention that they have Gregory Soto, who was being groomed for the role as well.
But on top of the Tigers benefitting from Fulmer being a closer, he could also become trade bait. This year, there was trade interest for Fulmer at the deadline; maybe a team would like to boost their bullpen with someone who can throw longer outings, and Fulmer could be that guy.
If Fulmer can show he is a reliable closer, he will prove to be even more valuable for the organization’s future. For fans wondering how this might work out, take a look at Shane Greene and what he did for the Tigers.
Greene was a starter, turned reliever, who was molded into the closer role and then shipped off for two prospects. If the Tigers want to maximize the value of Fulmer, then letting him go back into the rotation may not be the best.