Tigers’ Michael Fulmer will make two starts before All-Star break

ST. PETERSURG, Fla. — Detroit Tigers right-handed pitcher Michael Fulmer didn’t pick up a ball for a few days after his last start, instead utilizing some extra time off to deal with arm fatigue.

Fulmer (7-2, 2.40 ERA) will start Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Lefty Drew Smyly (2-8, 5.32) will start for the Rays.

“There’s no reason to overwork anything, especially if they’re going to give me time off,” Fulmer said. “I’m going to use it resourcefully.”

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he’s not worried about the sharpness of Fulmer’s stuff coming off the extra time off.

“If we keep running him out there every five days, he’s going to run out of innings,” Ausmus said. “If we rest him, he won’t run out of innings, but he might be a little bit not quite as sharp.”

Ausmus said Fulmer will start on regular rest for the last day in Cleveland and won’t start again until the fifth game after the All-Star break. That would give Fulmer 14 starts in the second half, without extra days off. If he averaged six innings a start, he would reach 175 innings.

Rick Porcello threw 170 2/3 innings as a rookie for the Tigers in 2009.

Fulmer said he thinks the arm fatigue is behind him.

“I felt great in my bullpen,” he said. “I felt great the past few days playing catch. I think we’re back on track. Everything is normal. I think tomorrow will be just as good as what it feels like.”

Fulmer, who has pitched 63 2/3 innings over 11 starts for the Tigers and 15 1/3 innings at Triple-A Toledo this season, understands why the Tigers are going to be cautious about his innings.

“Brad came up to me a couple days before my last start and just talked about limiting innings here and there, maybe a couple skipped starts,” Fulmer said. “He didn’t tell me anything was set in stone. He said he’d go by feel. I had to be honest with him how I was feeling.”

Fulmer allowed one run on three hits and one walk over 4 1/3 innings in his last start, against Seattle on June 22.

“I understand everywhere they’re coming from,” Fulmer said. “I’m not complaining about it. I just gotta go out and do my job whenever my name is called to pitch and go get a W that night.”

Fulmer has allowed one run or less in each of his last seven starts. He’s tied with Justin Verlander (June 9 through July 10, 2011 and Al Benton (April 19 to May 24, 1945) for the longest such streak by a Tiger since 1913.

Since May 21, he leads all major league pitchers with a 0.61 ERA and a .140 opponents batting average.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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