Starling Marte: leadoff-hitting strikeout machine

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Before fanning yet again to open Saturday’s game against the Cardinals, Starling Marte had amassed a major league-high 35 strikeouts in 24 games this season. He led the majors by two strikeouts over American League rookies Abraham Almonte and Marcus Semien and the NL by three over Justin Upton.

That put him on pace for 236 strikeouts for the season, which would easily outdistance the major league record of 223 set by Mark Reynolds in 2009. He’s probably not going to stay in that territory, but perhaps he could join Reynolds, Adam Dunn, Chris Carter and Drew Stubbs as the only players to fan 200 times in a season.

If not, there’s another record he could reach. One of the few strikeout records not set in the last 10 years is Bobby Bonds’ 184 from the leadoff spot in 1970. It’s been approached several times since, with Rickie Weeks finishing at 179 in 2010 and Austin Jackson racking up 169 and 178 in back-to-back years in 2010-11.

Of course, the Pirates could relieve Marte of leadoff duties, but they really don’t want to. Even with his struggles so far this year, he’s scored 14 runs in 24 games. He doesn’t walk much at all, but he does get hit by pitches, which has allowed him to amass a respectable .331 OBP in 206 career games. He’s also 7-for-8 stealing bases this year after going 41-for-56 last year.

So, the Pirates will simply hope Marte cuts back on the strikeouts a bit and gets his OBP back up. As is, they still have bigger concerns about the second spot in the lineup, which has yet to be secured by either Travis Snider or Jose Tabata and was actually manned by Josh Harrison and his career .279 OBP on Saturday.

Tigers place Michael Fulmer on 10-day disabled list

Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros
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Right-hander Michael Fulmer is going on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain, the Tigers announced Friday. In a corresponding move, right-hander Victor Alcantara was recalled from Triple-A Toledo.

Fulmer, 25, apparently suffered the injury during a routine bullpen session on Friday. A formal timeline for his recovery has not been announced yet. The righty is 3-9 in 19 starts this year with a 4.50 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 112 innings pitched. This is his first real setback of 2018 and figures to delay any potential trade discussions the Tigers might have been entertaining for Fulmer’s services.

Alcantara, meanwhile, will fill the open roster spot while Fulmer works his way back to the rotation. The 25-year-old righty is expected to help boost a bullpen that currently ranks fourth-worst in the American League with a collective 4.45 ERA and 1.0 fWAR. While Alcantara hasn’t done much at the major-league level so far — he tossed a scoreless three innings in relief during his last call-up — he maintained an impressive 2.81 ERA, 1.2 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 through 51 1/3 innings in Triple-A this year.