White Sox: Where Will Carson Fulmer Start 2018, Rotation or Bullpen?

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 30: Starting pitcher Carson Fulmer
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 30: Starting pitcher Carson Fulmer /

White Sox 2015 first round draft pick ended 2017 with a solid outing in his final start. Where will he end up in 2018, starting rotation or bullpen?

Chicago White Sox right-handed pitcher Carson Fulmer ended his 2017 season with a solid outing on the road against the Cleveland Indians. Although he initially struggled in his first major league start, Fulmer rebounded nicely to end his second stint on the South Side in good fashion.

With the Sox entering their second rebuilding season in 2018, Fulmer could get a chance to be a full-time starter in the team’s rotation next year. He could also come out of the bullpen, but what would be the better option for the Sox?

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In seven appearances this past season with the Sox, Fulmer recorded a 3-1 record with a 3.86 ERA. Fulmer made five starts for the Sox and he was able to rebound from a disastrous start to his second stint with the team. After lasting just 1 1/3 innings in his first MLB start on Aug. 21 against the Minnesota Twins, Fulmer posted his first career quality start in the majors on Sept. 10.

Fulmer pitched six innings against the Giants while giving up just one earned run.  He also notched nine strikeouts to set a career-high in his second MLB start. The 23-year-old recorded another quality start in his next outing against the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 15 at Comerica Park. In that game, Fulmer pitched six innings while allowing just one earned run, one walk and recording five strikeouts.

Although Fulmer posted consecutive quality starts for the first time in his major league career, he wouldn’t be able to finish one inning in his next outing. Fulmer left his start on Sept. 21 against the Houston Astros with a blister on his right index finger after 1/3 of an inning, and would have his final start of 2017 pushed back to Sept. 30. In his final start of the season against the Indians, Fulmer pitched five innings and gave up just one earned run.

After experiencing a less than stellar stint with the Sox in 2016, Fulmer’s reemergence at the end of 2017 should put him in consideration for the starting rotation next season. Carlos Rodon could miss the start of 2018 as he recovers from surgery, and this could open the door for Fulmer to pitch as a starter. Fulmer will also need a strong Spring Training to help solidify his spot in the Sox starting rotation for 2018.

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If Fulmer is unable to begin 2018 as a starter, he still holds value as a relief pitcher. In 4.2 innings pitched as a reliever this season, Fulmer posted a 1.42 ERA with three strikeouts and two walks. Fulmer could provide a solid low-leverage option out of the bullpen for the Sox next season, but he will most likely want to begin 2018 as a starting pitcher.