The Tigers placed right-hander Michael Fulmer on the 10-day injured list due to a right cervical spine strain. Left-hander Miguel Del Pozo was called up from Triple-A Toledo to take Fulmer’s spot on the active roster. Despite the rather ominous-sounding official injury designation, “the normal term is his neck is bothering him,” manager A.J. Hinch told The Detroit News’ Chris McCosky and other reporters. Fulmer felt the injury following yesterday’s outing against the Astros, which saw the righty allow three runs on two homers over an inning of work.
While the issue doesn’t sound overly serious, it does represent at least 10 fewer days for opposing scouts and front offices to gauge Fulmer’s value as a trade candidate. The 2016 AL Rookie Of The Year has reinvented himself as a reliever coming off Tommy John surgery in 2019 and some tough results as a starter in 2020, and Fulmer has a 3.62 ERA, 29.66% strikeout rate, and 5.08% walk rate in 27 1/3 innings out of the bullpen this season. He has also shown some quality in high-leverage situations, racking up six saves as part of Detroit’s closer committee.
With Fulmer still under control through one final arbitration year in 2022, he makes for an interesting trade chip for the Tigers to shop prior to July 30, assuming that he is able to return from the IL in good condition. An enterprising team could acquire Fulmer as bullpen help for this season, and then perhaps consider stretching him out next spring for one last crack at starting pitching, with a return to the relief corps available as a fallback option.
The transaction also creates another opportunity for Del Pozo, who didn’t get a chance to pitch when he was briefly called up to the Tigers earlier this month. Del Pozo signed a minor league deal with Detroit last winter, and over 13 innings with the Angels and Pirates in 2019-20, the southpaw issued 16 walks and posted a 12.46 ERA. At Triple-A Toledo this season, however, Del Pozo has a 1.02 ERA over 17 2/3 innings, with a 35.4% strikeout rate and (perhaps most importantly) a much more palatable 9.23% walk rate.