Carson Fulmer was quite good in his previous two outings. He was not good Friday night.
With the visiting Minnesota Twins in town, Fulmer didn’t make it out of the fourth inning after he surrendered four homers in the game’s first three innings, really all that needed to happen to determine the 6-4 final.
So was it two steps forward, one step back for the developing Fulmer? That’s a harsh and not really fair declaration to make, considering these kind of nights can happen to any big league pitcher.
But undoubtedly Fulmer is under a microscope for the rebuilding White Sox, who are using the 2018 season to find out what they have in a host of players and if those players are a part of the organization’s bright future. Fulmer — a first-round draft pick with plenty of potential — is a part of that group, which means that every start he makes will be looked at in a specific way.
Manager Rick Renteria has a habit of calling all these games for that group of young players “learning experiences.” It’s not difficult to see how Fulmer could have built on a pair of strong starts, allowing just two runs in 13 innings in his last two outings. But figuring out how a player builds on a string of up-and-down performances, inconsistent performances is a bit more challenging.
It seems like it just comes down to picking out the positives.
“Every time you go on the mound, regardless if it’s good or bad, you’re still learning,” Fulmer said. “Still get an opportunity to go out there and have another start, have another opportunity to learn and throw some positives under your belt.
“The veteran guys, they’re always on us about trying to take the positives out of every outing, but for me personally it’s really disappointing any time you go out there and get taken out of the game early.”
Fulmer’s positives were hard to come by in a game in which he watched four of his pitches leave the yard, including three in one inning. But Renteria pointed to the end of Fulmer’s outing, when after walking the first two hitters in the fourth, he got the next two out.
You might think that’s grasping at straws. Or maybe it is a valuable learning experience that could benefit Fulmer down the line in his career.
“He ended up working, even when I left him out there to work in the fourth. He got through (Joe) Mauer and (Brian) Dozier, and I was expecting he’d be able to get through that,” Renteria said. “He worked very, very hard to manage that situation.
“I thought he worked, he tried to work and manage what he had today. He didn’t have his best command, but he had good stuff. I think it’s one of those things where he’s going to have to continue to slow it down a little bit, try to find a way to direct and be able to manage locating and commanding the zone as best he can.”
Regardless of how much was actually gleaned from this particular outing, the overarching themes stay the same when it comes to Fulmer’s opportunity this season. With the White Sox not expected to contend for any kind of championships, Fulmer and many of the team’s other young players will get plenty of playing time to show what they can do and whether or not they belong in the organization’s long-term plans.
With an ERA north of 5.00, Fulmer still has plenty to show. But he also has plenty of time to show it. He’s still yet to surrender more than four earned runs in a single outing this season, and those recent outings against the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals were impressive.
And so while the message voiced by both Fulmer and Renteria on Friday night of moving on to the next start might sound like a cliche, it’s true. Fulmer will get another shot and another shot after that and another shot after that to keep his name in the conversation.