DETROIT -- Two years ago, Michael Fulmer was buried amidst the talented crop of young pitchers in the Mets' farm system, hoping for a chance to pitch in the big leagues.A year ago, Fulmer was simply hoping to pitch in a playoff race at the end of the season, making
DETROIT -- Two years ago, Michael Fulmer was buried amidst the talented crop of young pitchers in the Mets' farm system, hoping for a chance to pitch in the big leagues.
A year ago, Fulmer was simply hoping to pitch in a playoff race at the end of the season, making his case that an innings limit shouldn't stop him.
Now, Fulmer is headed to the All-Star Game in his first full Major League season. And the reigning American League Rookie of the Year is hoping for a chance to pitch in the Midsummer Classic.
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"It's a blessing. It truly is," said Fulmer, the only Tiger headed to this year's Midsummer Classic in Miami.
Fulmer was one of four selections by Major League Baseball to fill out the AL pitching staff, joining Corey Kluber, Yu Darvish and Lance McCullers
Fulmer has been a bright spot in a Tigers season that has needed some. It's not that the 23-year-old right-hander is blossoming into one of Detroit's bright young starters. He has become the club's best starter right now.
Fulmer's 7-6 record belies his 3.19 ERA, which ranks seventh among AL starters and tops the Tigers' rotation by more than a run and a half. His 13 quality starts rank second in the AL behind Chris Sale. Three of those starts have ended in defeats thanks to the Tigers being shut out, including two 1-0 losses.
"He's earned it," fellow Tigers starter Justin Verlander said. "He's been one of the best pitchers in the league since he came up last year. Couldn't be more excited for him."
"I didn't think much into it until [manager] Brad [Ausmus] told me," Fulmer said. "But just to have the respect and votes from my peers and coaches and analysts and whoever else voted, it's an honor to be able to represent the Tigers."
Said Ausmus: "He's been by far our most consistent pitcher. Last year, I thought he kind of deserved to go, but he wasn't a well-known name. This year, everyone in baseball is aware of who he is after Rookie of the Year, and he's picked up right where he left off, so he's more than deserving."
In a year when familiar Tigers veterans were shut out in fan balloting and overshadowed by emerging young stars in player voting, Fulmer will be the Tigers' lone representative. It marks the first time since 2000 that a pitcher has been the lone Tigers All-Star.
Whether Fulmer will get to pitch has to be worked out. He has two starts this week, opening a three-game series against the Giants on Tuesday night at Comerica Park before closing out the season's first half Sunday night at Cleveland. In past years, pitching the Sunday before the All-Star break ruled out pitchers from working in the All-Star Game, though they could still take part in the festivities. Both Fulmer and Ausmus are hoping he can be an exception.
"It's his bullpen day," said Ausmus, noting Fulmer usually throws his side session two days after a start. "That hasn't been decided."
Said Fulmer: "There's kind of multiple options. I can go down there and enjoy myself and not do anything. Of course, the competitive side of me wants to at least get an out. So I think we'll obviously discuss it."
Fans can cast ballots for the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile devices until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will then be announced during "MLB Tonight" live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. Extensive coverage throughout the Final Vote will be provided by MLB Network and MLB.com, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns, and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.
Now in its 16th season, with more than 680 million votes cast, the Final Vote again will include social votes on the last day of balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the final six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.
On Tuesday, July 11, at 7:30 p.m. ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.