Carson Fulmer is back in the big leagues. For how long is anyone's guess.
The White Sox brought Fulmer up from Triple-A Charlotte ahead of Monday's series-opener with the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, filling the roster void created when they optioned outfielder Ryan Cordell to Charlotte after Sunday's loss to the Seattle Mariners.
The move made plenty of sense, the White Sox adding an arm to a taxed bullpen. Manager Rick Renteria used six relievers Sunday after starter Ivan Nova gave up seven runs in 2.1 innings of work. He needed four arms a day earlier when Lucas Giolito couldn't get out of the sixth. In general, it was a woeful weekend for White Sox pitching, which gave up 29 runs and 10 homers to the Mariners in the three-game series.
But there's another ingredient to this roster-move stew that continues to linger around the team.
The White Sox are expected to put starting pitcher Ervin Santana on the active roster ahead of Tuesday's game, when he's expected to make his first start of the season and bring the starting rotation to a full complement of five pitchers. It should be noted that the team has not said that's what will be happening. If that's what does end up happening, it will necessitate another roster move. Removing a bullpen pitcher in favor of Santana would be logical, and maybe Fulmer's stay in the majors lasts just one day. Though, as chronicled in the wake of Sunday's blowout loss, the numbers in the White Sox relief corps are generally ugly, and a case could be made to give any one of a number of guys a stay in Triple-A and allow Fulmer a chance to prove himself capable at the major league level over a lengthier period of time.
All that will shake out over the course of the next 24 hours.
Until another move is made, Fulmer is once again a Major League Baseball player. The No. 8 pick in the 2015 draft, Fulmer's numbers in multiple big league stints have not been good. He owns a 6.68 ERA in 24 career appearances, 13 of which have been starts. He started the 2018 season as a part of the White Sox rotation but fared miserably, allowing 29 earned runs, giving up eight homers and walking 24 batters in just 32.1 innings. He was sent down in mid May, continued to struggle as a starting pitcher in Charlotte and was transitioned to a bullpen role. His numbers improved as a reliever, and he put up a 4.37 ERA over his last 16 appearances of 2018, all in relief.
The White Sox are not giving up on their first-round draft pick from four years ago making a long-term impact quite yet, and maybe he ends up being one of the team's fleet of young bullpen arms that sticks around for the transition from rebuilding to contending.
"The previous spring, everything was a little shortened — not in velocity, not in sharpness, but in distance. He was actually grounding a lot of pitches, ball out of hand. I thought this spring was a lot better," Renteria said of Fulmer on Monday. "I thought he was throwing a lot of strikes. He was staying down in the zone. His direction was better. I thought his confidence level was high, as well.
"We expect and hope that we have some success with him in that (bullpen) role. Certainly, he has the ability to do, I think, both (be a starter and a reliever). But he continues to improve and get himself on track. I think that his mindset’s always been a very good one. Hopefully, we’ll be able to combine both his physical ability and his mindset to work through something positive for him and us."
Perhaps Fulmer's big league bullpen audition starts now. Perhaps it will have to wait until later in the season. But that first-round status isn't going away. It's up to him and the White Sox to figure out if he can still make an impact.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.