3: Michael Fulmer – Detroit Tigers
This might sound like I’m repeating myself, but Michael Fulmer has had a bit of an unorthodox career path.
Fulmer made his MLB debut in 2016 with the Tigers as a starter. Unlike guys like Jorge Lopez though, Fulmer originally excelled in this role. In his rookie season, he pitched 159 innings and put up a 3.06 ERA on his way to the American League Rookie of the Year Award. In 2017, he put up similar numbers and was named to the All-Star team. Then the wheels fell off. While not atrocious in 2018, Fulmer was a below-average pitcher but missed time due to injury. He then missed the 2019 season following Tommy John Surgery, and then struggled immensely in 2020, posting an 8.78 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched over 10 starts. And then he moved to the bullpen, and just like that, he was better than ever.
In his first season as a reliever in 2021, Fulmer pitched 69.2 innings and posted a 2.97 ERA, and he’s gotten even better in 2022. At the time of writing this, he has a 1.89 ERA over 33.1 innings pitched with a WHIP slightly above one. His peripherals are also excellent, sitting near the top of the league for most expected stats, and in the 99th percentile for barrel rate. His career path isn’t the only thing about Fulmer that’s unorthodox though, as his slider, which he uses about 63% of the time is his primary pitch. Because of this, his approach relies mainly on producing non-dangerous contact, something he excels at.
Fulmer only being under club control through this season, and not providing a ton of swing and miss may not seem ideal for the Blue Jays, but personally, I think it is. As a pitcher, I think Fulmer could bring some consistency to the Jays pen that it currently lacks, and his contract situation should only make acquiring him cheaper. The Tigers are not very good and have no reason not to deal Fulmer, so come the deadline, Toronto should be all over him.