David Lennon David Lennon has been a staff writer for

David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.

He was named one of the top 10 columnists in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2014 and also took first place in that category for New York State that same year.

Lennon began covering baseball for Newsday as the Yankees' beat writer in 1995, the season the Bombers snapped a 14-year playoff drought by becoming the American League's first wild-card team. Two World Series rings later, Lennon left the Yankees' beat after the 1998 season, bounced between the Bronx and Shea for the next three years, then took over on the Mets for the demise of Bobby Valentine in 2002. He became Newsday's national baseball writer in 2012.

Lennon also is a Hall of Fame voter, a former Chairman of the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America and co-author of "The Great New York Sports Debate."
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For those wondering what became of Michael Fulmer, forever stamped in Mets’ lore as the high-ceiling prospect traded away last season for Yoenis Cespedes, we can confirm that he is indeed a very good major-league pitcher right now for the Tigers.

Actually, Fulmer is better than that.

The streak he’s on at the moment, ever since pulling a plus-changeup out of his back pocket during a bullpen session, is historically great. With Sunday’s mastery of the Yankees in a 4-1 win, Fulmer joined the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta as the only two pitchers, since 1893, to go four consecutive starts with at least six scoreless innings and three hits or fewer.

“Pretty good company,” said Mike Pelfrey, the former Met and current Tigers teammate. “He’s the real deal.”

No pressure, huh? Only 23, with nine career starts, and Fulmer already is being mentioned in the same breath as Arrieta, the reigning Cy Young champ who’s put up supernatural numbers since last year’s All-Star break.

Of course, we’re talking small sample sizes here. This isn’t to suggest the Mets dealt the next Arrieta. Just that Fulmer (7-1, 2.52 ERA) is rapidly maturing into the ace-caliber starter Sandy Alderson was hesitant to use as a trade chip, even for a game-changing bat like Cespedes. With a fastball at 94-97, an 87-88 slider, and now a lethal changeup, Fulmer is the total package, on par with the elite youngsters that currently reside in the Mets’ stellar rotation.

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“I think he’s becoming more confident, which is the biggest hurdle once you get to the big leagues,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He seems like he’s on the right track for sure.”

Consider Fulmer a parting gift from former GM Dave Dombrowski, who was fired by the Tigers four days after making the Fulmer trade and is now the president of baseball ops for the Red Sox. Shipping Cespedes to Flushing for a minor-league pitcher was the same as raising a white flag over Comerica Park, and despite the rosy projections, Fulmer couldn’t save the ’15 season.

“I wasn’t really happy about it,” Ausmus said. “I didn’t know anything about him.”

The Mets, however, were acutely aware of what they were giving up. Fulmer was their first-round draft pick in 2011, selected No. 44 overall, and four years later, the tremendous upside was showing. Any other season, slogging through their rebuild, and the Mets don’t make that deal. But with a division title in reach, it was a no-brainer. Alderson had to pull the trigger on Cespedes, even with the understanding that Fulmer could haunt them for the next decade.

Back then, the Mets already had Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey as the rotation’s anchors, with the recent promotions of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz adding even more ace-caliber arms. The Mets were so deep in that department they first tried to trade Zack Wheeler, still rehabbing from TJ surgery, in a package for the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez — a deal we all watched spectacularly collapse in a flood of Wilmer Flores’ tears.


“I knew a lot of those guys,” Fulmer said. “I was teammates with them in the minor leagues. I knew if I kept at it, and pitched like I could, my time would come.”

The decision to ultimately move Fulmer instead is the kind that keeps GMs awake at night. Alderson later admitted to being against it until nudged by COO Jeff Wilpon, who realized the Mets were at a tipping point, and getting Cespedes was the franchise’s best shot at ending a nine-year run of futility.

Cespedes was approaching free agency, and to those who knew Fulmer best, he seemed like an overpay for a two-month rental. But Cespedes’ monster second half not only propelled the Mets to the World Series, the experience helped pave the way for him returning this season. And now? They’d be an offensive catastrophe without Cespedes.

Just like tracking an Ex on Instagram, it won’t be easy for the Mets to completely let go of Fulmer. To wonder what might have been. At least he’s in the American League.