Fulmer takes lessons from rough outing

Rookie looks at positives despite shaky 5-inning start vs. Cleveland

Fulmer takes lessons from rough outing

CLEVELAND -- Michael Fulmer hasn't had many humbling moments in his impressive rookie season. When he has, he has tended not to get bogged down in the struggles. Since his first four outings, every time he hasn't thrown a quality start, he has thrown better his next time out.

As he stood at his locker Friday night and reflected on one of his roughest outings of the year, having tied a career high with six runs over five innings against the Indians, he was taking a similar tactic.

"You try to take away the positives," Fulmer said. "That's the only thing you can do. There's a few bloop singles and base hits that didn't go our way. I thought altogether that I felt good, I felt sharp. Just didn't throw strikes, and that's what happens."

Velocitywise, Fulmer continues to avoid obvious signs of fatigue. His fastball averaged 95-96 mph -- down about a half-mile-per-hour from his previous start against the Orioles last week, but consistent with what he has thrown most of the summer.

The command, however, was off. His three walks marked his highest total since his season-high four against the Royals on June 17. His ratio of 55 strikes to 100 pitches was his lowest of the season. Part of that came from a disciplined Indians lineup that had just seven swings and misses against him, only one of them off the changeup that has been an important pitch for him all year.

"They had some great takes," Fulmer said. "Balls just out of the zone, just off the plate, whatever it is. They battled with two strikes and found a way to get it done. It's a tough one, but you take the positives from it and turn the page and look forward to the next one."

The extra rest between starts had little if any impact. Fulmer had thrown strong outings on six days' rest in three previous starts since the beginning of August.

Though Fulmer's five innings were enough to qualify him for the ERA leaderboard again, the six runs off him were enough to knock him out of the lead. His 3.03 ERA now trails Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka (2.97) for the American League lead.

The outing will not change the Tigers' plan with Fulmer over the final two weeks of the regular season, manager Brad Ausmus said. He's scheduled for two more starts, finishing with a rematch against the Indians at Comerica Park in the season's final week. The schedule should leave him available to pitch in the AL Wild Card Game should the Tigers qualify.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.