Carson Fulmer did not make a good first impression as a starting pitcher in the majors. However, his effort on Sunday could go a long way to help make his case for a White Sox roster spot in 2018.
Fulmer picked up the win in his second career MLB start against the Giants. He pitched six innings and gave up one run while striking out nine.
That's a far cry from his first major league start, on Aug. 21, when Fulmer gave up six runs and didn't last two innings. Fulmer went back to Triple-A Charlotte after that start, but rejoined the White Sox when rosters expanded in September. Manager Rick Renteria explained that what Fulmer shows the team in September will be used to evaluate his potential for the team next season.
"Fulmer right now is gonna be pitching so that we can continue to assess what we can do with him for the upcoming season," Renteria said. "It would be fair to say that, whether it's in relief or starting, I think getting him the innings that he can get right now in this particular time is just important. For us to be able to see him and see what he's capable of doing hopefully for the next couple of starts and maybe he gets a lot more beneift out of it. For us, putting our eyes on him in September is a little bit better than doing it in the spring. Right now, it's still in the flow of the season and we can see where he's at."
Fulmer was used exclusively as a reliever in his brief time with the White Sox last season. This year he has made two starts and two relief appearances. With Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito looking like future staples of the White Sox rotation, and a slew of high-level pitching prospects pushing their way to the majors, Fulmer doesn't have a big window to show his value as a starter to the team.
"As long as we win that's all that matters to me," Fulmer said. "I'll do any role for our team and you just have to be able to go in any situation and get your team out of it. Obviously for me I like to start games and go as long as I can. I talked to Ricky and our management. My job is to come to the field prepared each day to take care of a job and that's what I'm going to do."
Between what Renteria and Fulmer said, it sounds like what Fulmer does the rest of this season will be viewed as a tryout. If Fulmer continues to hurl quality starts like he did on Sunday, perhaps he will have a chance at the White Sox rotation in 2018.
Fulmer allowed a home run to Jarrett Parker in the second inning, which gave the Giants an early lead. The White Sox supported Fulmer with a five-run bottom half. Fulmer settled down, limiting the Giants to three hits and three walks in his six innings of work. He said after the start that he "was able to command everything that I had."
The Vanderbilt product is still adjusting to life in the majors on and off the field, but is hoping more starts like Sunday's will prove his worth to the White Sox.
"I've worked my whole life to get here and I'm a competitor," Fulmer said. "I want to have success here, along with the rest of my teammates. It's a learning experience for me. I've been up here for a little while, but I want to stick. I want to do everything I can to continue to have a spot on this team. We have something special here. The clubhouse is great. The veteran guys, they're helping us guys settle in pretty good. It's a great time to be here right now and I think that we'll all continue to grow and move forward."