What You Need To Know About Carson Fulmer's Promotion
You aren't going to believe this, but the White Sox are bringing up a pitcher from the minors before they were expected to.
There have been plenty of smoke signals about Carson Fulmer coming from the White Sox in recent weeks, and during the All Star break there were whispers that he could possibly be coming to Chicago sooner rather than later. Well, it's sooner.
The White Sox made it official on Friday, calling Fulmer up from Birmingham (as well as adding Justin Mourneau to the roster).
Fulmer was the team's first-round draft pick last summer, taken with the eighth overall pick. It was only 13 months ago that Fulmer was still pitching in a Vanderbilt uniform.
I'm sure you have questions about Fulmer, and what this all means, so I'm going to do my best to answer all of them.
WHAT'S HIS ROLE GOING TO BE?
The White Sox drafted Fulmer with the 8th pick of the 2015 draft because they believe he's going to be a starter for them one day. I don't. I see Fulmer as the type of pitcher that could be a very effective reliever for the White Sox, with high-leverage situations, and likely the role of closer, as a strong possibility.
For now he's being called up to work out of the bullpen.
Personally, I'm not thrilled with Fulmer being brought up this soon. He's never pitched above Double-A, and he only has 110 innings of minor league experience. Of course, Carlos Rodon only had 34.1 innings of minor league experience before he came to Chicago, and while he started in the bullpen, he didn't remain there long.
The one thing that both Fulmer and Rodon have in common is plenty of experience at the college level, at strong programs in strong baseball conferences.
The difference, in my eyes, is that Rodon came equipped with a very good fastball and a ridiculous slider. While Fulmer has good stuff, and throws hard, he doesn't have a pitch on the level of Rodon's slider.
All of that being said, if there's one thing the White Sox have done well, it's develop pitchers. I may believe this is too soon for Fulmer, but I get it, and I'll give the Sox the benefit of the doubt here.
WHAT KIND OF STUFF DOES HE HAVE?
Well, he comes equipped with two good pitches. His fastball typically sits in the mid-90s, and he has a good curveball that is usually clocked in the upper 70s. He also has a changeup, which is far from a finished product, but could be effective if utilized properly.
I also heard that he was working on cutter during the spring, but I have no idea if he's continued using it in Birmingham.
Anyway, he has good pitches, even if he doesn't have a great pitch...yet.
SO WHY ARE THEY CALLING HIM UP NOW?
They need help in the bullpen, and Carson Fulmer won't cost you a prospect that a trade would. So I'm guessing that the front office wants to give Fulmer a chance to prove himself as a reliever so they can focus on addressing other areas in a trade -- if they even do that.
Also, Fulmer's been pitching well lately. He got off to a very slow start, and walked a ton of hitters, but he seems to have found his command in recent weeks, and is pitching much better, even if he still hasn't been lights out.
The one thing the Sox will be looking for from Fulmer, though, is swings and misses. Overall, if we're basing things on ERA and FIP, the White Sox bullpen hasn't been bad this season. In fact, it's ranked in the top 10 in both of those categories.
Where things get iffy is when it comes to stranding inherited runners, strikeouts and walks. The White Sox bullpen doesn't have a lot of swing-and-miss to its game outside of David Robertson and Nate Jones. Everybody else is basically hoping for a ground ball.
Fulmer can bring some strikeouts to the equation, and a strikeout is the best defense.
What worries me is his control. While he's improved lately, Fulmer is still plenty capable of walking guys.
WHY DON'T YOU THINK HE CAN BE A STARTER?
It's his delivery more than anything. I hate using the word "violent" to describe a pitching motion, but it really is the first word that comes to mind when I see Fulmer's delivery. Everything seems to be starting and stopping at an alarming speed.
Chris Sale has a funky delivery as well, but there's at least some grace involved in it. It feels like a swinging pendulum, even if it doesn't look like one.
Fulmer doesn't give me that feeling.
Even if his delivery never leads to health problems, I'm just skeptical of his ability to be consistent in his motion from pitch to pitch, and I think that's exactly what leads to a lot of his control issues. I believe it'll be much easier for him to do it in limited doses, rather than trying to do it for six or seven innings at a time.
Also, I believe Fulmer's stuff becomes more potent in short bursts. Like I said, his fastball usually sits in the mid-90s, but he can get it up to 97 or 98 if he wants to. Working as a late-inning reliever, he could do that more often, which would make his curve and changeup that much more effective.
So it's not even that I don't think he could be a starter as much as it's I'm of the opinion he could be a very good -- possibly even elite -- reliever, whereas I think he'd be a back end of the rotation starter.
Both have their uses, obviously, but with bullpens becoming more and more important, I'm of a mind where I'd rather have the possibly elite reliever than the mediocre starter.
SO IS THIS GOING TO WORK?
I have no idea, but I'm always interested in having new players to watch. It makes a long season that can get monotonous more fun.