The Detroit Tigers have had 19 different pitchers make their Major League Baseball debut as starters for the team since 2005, which Justin Verlander made his first ever big league start.
April 29, 2016
The Tigers top prospect Michael Fulmer made his debut against the Minnesota Twins. Fulmer allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk across 5.0 innings of baseball for the team from the Motor City. The 23-year-old, with a 97 miles per hour fastball and power slider, struck out four hitters. If he continues to pitch well, Fulmer could solidify a spot in the rotation. If not, the right-hander will go back to Triple-A Toledo's starting rotation or could wind up in the bullpen of the Tigers. Fulmer will battle against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
While Fulmer was good, how does the right-handed pitcher compare to the 18 other pitchers to debut as starters for the Tigers in the MLB?
The Tigers sent Justin Verlander, 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and 2011 American League Cy Young winner, to the hill against the Cleveland Indians. The righty allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks across 5.1 innings, striking out just four. Verlander took the loss as the Tigers fell 6-0, but his debut was not terrible. He turned into an ace for Detroit and is still with the team to this day.
Zach Miner made his debut against the Boston Red Sox. Miner gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks, but the offense could not provide him with help. Miner struck out two through 4.0 innings. Detroit dropped the gave to Boston, 8-3.
Detroit debuted both Virgil Vasquez and Jair Jurrjens during the 2007 season. Vasquez made his debut on May 13, 2007, while Jurrjens found himself on the big league slab on August 15, 2007.
Vasquez struggled a ton as he gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks across 2.2 innings with just one strikeout. It was a game which the Minnesota Twins won, 16-4.
Jurrgens was a different story, but the Tigers still lost to the Indians by three runs. The right-hander went 7.0 innings deep into the game, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks. He tallied three strikeouts in the outing. Jurrgens has not pitched in the MLB since 2014 with the Colorado Rockies.
Eddie Bonnie was dominant for the Tigers in the minor and was eventually promoted to start for the team against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 14, 2008. Bonnie scattered six runs across 5.1 innings, but Detroit managed to get the 12-7 victory.
On August 26, 2008, Chris Lambert debuted for the Tigers against the Cleveland Indians. Lambert, a first round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 MLB Draft, had a huge upside, but only pitch 33.0 innings in his entire big league career. During the game against the Indians, which Cleveland won 10-4, Lambert pitched 2.2 innings and allowed six runs (two earned runs) onn five hits and a walk.
The Tigers, in 2009, debuted Rick Porcello and Alfredo Figaro. Porcello made his start on April 9, 2009 and Figaro on June 20, 2016.
Porcello, a 20-year-old at the time, gave up four runs to the Toronto Blue Jays on nine hits and a walk. Porcello made it 5.0 innings and struck out four. The Blue Jays beat the Tigers, 6-2.
Detroit sent Figaro to toss against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was a game which the Tigers won 9-5. The right-hander struck out seven across 5.0 innings of work, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks. The current 31-year-old has not pitched in the majors since the 2014 season.
Andy Oliver made his start for Detroit on June 25, 2010. Oliver pitched through 6.0 innings, giving up just two runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts. It was not enough to get the win due to the lack of run support. The Tigers lost to the Atlanta Braves, 3-1.
The Tigers debuted Duane Below and Jacob Turner during the 2011 season. Below gave up three runs (one earned run) on five hits and one walk across 5.0 innings of work in the Oakland Athletics 7-5 win over the Tigers. Meanwhile, Tuner debuted against the Los Angeles Angels on July 30, 2011. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and three walks across 5.1 innings, which he accumulated six strikeouts. Despite his top notch performance, the Angles beat the Tigers, 5-1.
Drew Smyly made his debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 12, 2012. He went 4.0 innings into the game and allowed only one run on four hits and three walks. While striking out four batters, Smyly led the Tigers to a 7-2 win over the Rays.
On June 1, 2012, the Tigers sent Casey Crosby to the hill for hit debut at the major league level. Crosby, facing the well respected New York Yankees, allowed six runs on four hits and four walks across 3.1 innings. Crosby pitched three games that season, but has not stepped on a big league mound since.
The Tigers played the Cleveland Indians on June 9, 2013. It was the day Jose Alvarez would make his major league debut. The left-handed pitched went 6.0 innings deep and gave up just one run, while striking out seven batters. Detroit won the game, 4-1. Alvarez is currently with the Los Angles Angels, working out of the bullpen.
Robbie Ray, Drew VerHagen, Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan all made their debuts with Detroit during hte 2014 season. While all gave up four runs or less, the best outing was Ryan's debut against the Chicago White Sox on August 30, 2016. Ryan pitched 6.0 scoreless innings with one strikeout against the team from the Windy City. Due to his outstanding performance, Detroit won 8-4 over Chicago.
How does Michael Fulmer stack up with other pitchers to make their debuts for the Tigers? Will he be a bust or a stud? Only time with tell for the Tigers and the young right-handed pitcher.