Like many of our friends throughout the SB Nation network, we are simulating the 2020 MLB season with MLB The Show 20. While we are unable to stream the games as they would otherwise be happening, we will try to get ahead of the curve and post about the games on the same day they would have taken place. Now, onto the recap!
Michael Fulmer made his simulated season debut on Thursday, but the Detroit Tigers offense and defense let him and starter Ivan Nova down in a 4-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Though Detroit out-hit the Tribe six to five, a costly error — more on that later — led to two backbreaking Cleveland runs late in the game.
Early on, both Nova and Indians starter Mike Clevinger were on their respective games. Clevinger gave up just a bloop double to Miguel Cabrera through the first three frames, while Nova’s lone miscue was a walk to Carlos Santana. Even after Nova gave up a solo home run to Oscar Mercado in the fourth, putting Cleveland up 1-0, he largely kept pace with Clevinger through five innings — though there were some loud outs in his final two frames.
Michael Fulmer entered in the sixth, and even in a video game, there were signs of rust. He walked Cesar Hernandez to open the inning, then gave up a two-out RBI double down the line to Franmil Reyes. Jose Ramirez followed by hitting what first looked like an inning-ending ground ball to second, but a bad hop got by Jonathan Schoop and rolled nearly all the way to the right-center field wall. Cameron Maybin’s throw in got away from the cutoff man, and Ramirez ran all the way around the bases to score, putting Cleveland up 4-0.
Fulmer settled down from there, and was able to work the final three frames without any more trouble. He managed to work four innings in just 49 pitches, an efficient outing despite the defensive hijinx earlier in the game.
Meanwhile, the Tigers offense never really got going. Cabrera was responsible for the Tigers’ first three hits, and was doubled off of first by an unfortunate line drive directly to Santana in the seventh inning. Detroit finally broke through with two outs in the eighth, plating a single run to avoid the shutout, but went quietly against Brad Hand in the ninth.
So, you wanted a realistic video game simulation...
If that Jose Ramirez play in the sixth looked strange to you, that’s because it was.
Video game weirdness is going to happen, but if it could do so without tanking Michael Fulmer’s ERA, I’d appreciate it.
Speaking of Fulmer...
I have zero idea if the Tigers will handle Fulmer this way in real life — or if we’re going to have baseball in 2020 — but 50-ish pitches was going to be my limit with him in this game. I figure we’ll keep him there for at least a month, then maybe try to push the envelope after that. His in-game stamina probably won’t let him go past about 75 pitches anyway, so this tandem with Nova might be the way to go.