White Sox

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer: 'Our time is coming soon'

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer: 'Our time is coming soon'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Reynaldo Lopez is close to ready. Carson Fulmer has continued to pitch very well. And Lucas Giolito just had his best start of the season.

But when it came time to find a replacement for James Shields, the White Sox turned to veteran Mike Pelfrey at Triple-A Charlotte. Just like he had promised all offseason and spring and reiterated on Friday, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stayed away from his top prospects to fill the void when Shields was placed on the 10-day disabled list. Pelfrey's contract was purchased on Saturday and he started against the Cleveland Indians. Even though he would have loved it to have his name called once again, Fulmer said he understand what the White Sox are trying to do.

"We know our time is coming soon," Fulmer said. "Hopefully sooner than later, but I think the main thing is they just want to make sure we're ready to stay up there for good instead of moving back down and making that transition back and forth. No, we're good, man."

Fulmer has a 4.24 ERA through three starts, though he didn't get much help from his defense in his second outing on April 12 when he allowed five earned runs at Durham.

But the most important number to look at with the right-hander is the strikeout to walk ratio, which currently stands at 11:3 in 17 innings.

Both he and the White Sox look at it as more proof the 2015 first-rounder is progressing as they hoped he would when he was returned to Charlotte last August. In six starts since, Fulmer has a 2.53 ERA, 25 strikeouts and six walks in 32 innings.

Still, Hahn and the White Sox want to see more from their prospects. They don't want to create a taxi service back and forth from Charlotte. In order to do that, they're slamming on the brakes and focused on player development instead of rushing players to fill voids. Fulmer, who charted pitches during Saturday's game against the Rochester Red Wings, said he's focused on what he's doing instead of looking at the big picture.

"I don't look into too many things," Fulmer said. "Our time is coming. We have to be patient and we have to respect the process."

"I've figured out a lot so far with my delivery, my command has been really, really good. I'm forcing a lot of weak contact, a lot of ground balls and my game has changed a lot. I think I'm pretty close to where I want to be and the process obviously takes a while and you have to respect that. With the guys we have here and the way we push one another I think it's gotten me ready for the next step."

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

After a rough outing against the Detroit Tigers on July 4 — his last before the All-Star break — White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez vowed to be a different pitcher going forward.

“At this point, after a really bad first half, there's not much I can say about that. Starting today, you're going to see a different pitcher going forward for the second half of the season,” Lopez said after his July 4 start through team interpreter Billy Russo. “What is done is done. There's nothing else that I can do to change what is done.

“I can do different things to get better and to be a better pitcher for the year and that's what I'm going to do.”

Two outings later, and Lopez is nearing the point where he can say “I told you so.”

Lopez has come out of the break firing on all cylinders after struggling to a 4-8 record and MLB-worst 6.34 ERA before the Midsummer Classic. Friday, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing just six hits and one walk compared to eight strikeouts. This follows his brilliant outing against the Athletics on Sunday in which he pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and one run — albeit unearned — with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Lopez exited Sunday’s game in line for a win before the White Sox bullpen slipped up. The offense allowed no such opportunity on Friday, tallying 16 hits en route to a 9-2 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s Lopez’s first win since June 9 against the Kansas City Royals.

Lopez has received a fair share of criticism this season for his struggles, but his recent success should not come as much of a surprise considering how he fared in 2018. The 25-year-old posted a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts, striking out 151 batters in 188 2/3 innings.

Lopez’s strikeout rate in 2019 is up compared to 2018 (8.19 K/9 in 2019 vs. 7.20 in 2018) and his walk rate is down (3.32 BB/9 in 2019 vs. 3.58 in 2018). The major difference is that opponents are hitting .284 against him this season compared to .234 in 2018, while also holding a .319 BABIP, up from .260 last season.

It may just be two starts, but Lopez is backing up his vow to pitch better. Between Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and the returns of Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón from Tommy John surgery in 2020, the White Sox future starting rotation is in good hands. Getting Lopez back to pitching how he did in 2018 will only take that group to the next level.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Interview with Hall of Famer Harold Baines

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NBC Sports Chicago

White Sox Talk Podcast: Interview with Hall of Famer Harold Baines

Chuck Garfien sits down with new Hall of Famer Harold Baines.

First, Chuck, Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka share their memories of watching Baines play with the White Sox (1:40). Then, Baines explains why he's always been so soft-spoken (8:45), how he was able to play 22 seasons in the majors (13:00), why he's never spoken to GM Larry Himes for trading him to Texas (15:30), the apology he received from President George W. Bush (16:30), what he thinks about the critics who don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame (18:25), a replay of Baines emotional interview with Chuck about his dad (20:50) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: