Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer isn’t a lock to return to the rotation this year after sustaining a knee injury during Saturday’s game against the Indians. While Cleveland advanced toward the postseason with a 15-0 win and another division title, Detroit lost their starter after just five pitches.
According to catcher James McCann‘s postgame comments, Fulmer dropped a few miles off his pitches at the start of the game, which made him a sitting duck for Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley as they cracked back-to-back home runs in the first inning. Even more alarming, Fulmer’s velocity issues also revealed some problems with his knee, and he was quickly pulled from the game and later diagnosed with a case of right knee inflammation.
At this point, it’s still unclear how much time the right-hander might miss, and the Tigers will reserve a final judgment until they receive the results of his MRI on Monday. Given that Fulmer has just two scheduled starts remaining over the final two weeks of the regular season, a return to the mound seems somewhat unlikely. Following Saturday’s performance, the 25-year-old hurler has pitched to a disappointing 3-12 record in 24 starts with a 4.69 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 132 1/3 frames this year.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.