White Sox: What to Make of Carson Fulmer’s Late Season Success

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 30: Starting pitcher Carson Fulmer
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 30: Starting pitcher Carson Fulmer /
HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 21: Carson Fulmer
HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 21: Carson Fulmer /

White Sox 2015 first round pick displayed potential on the mound to end 2017 season. Just how good was the pitcher in his second stint with the team?

After a very forgettable 2016 season, Carson Fulmer needed to show out during the 2017 season in order to preserve his hype that White Sox fans have been counting on since he was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft. His opportunity to do so was delayed until later in this past season, as he was not called up until Aug. 21.

The Sox had no plans of easing him back into the fold as he got the start that day against the Minnesota Twins. In front of a crowd of 14,493 at Guaranteed Rate Field, his start lasted only 1.1 innings. Those 1.1 innings would be painful, with the Twins putting up six runs on four hits with Fulmer surrendering three walks.

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September 2017

With his worst start of the season behind him, White Sox manager Rick Renteria did not elect to start Fulmer again until Sept. 10, this time against San Francisco. Signs of his potential flashed against the Giants, with a six inning, three hit, nine strikeout performance.

This was the first of what would end up being four September starts, and those would give Sox fans more than enough reason to believe in Fulmer. In 17.1 innings, Fulmer gave up all of three earned runs while striking out sixteen. In six total September appearances, Fulmer held a record of 3-0, an earned-run average of 1.64, a WHIP of 1.00, and most impressively, an opponent batting average of .158.

Now What?

The likes of Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Alec Hansen, and Carlos Rodon are the first that come to mind when the future White Sox rotation is discussed. Fulmer’s performance in 2017 will not only force the hand of the White Sox front office but will change the outlook on the future of the entire White Sox franchise. He delivered not only what the front office has been wanting to see the past two years, but also what Sox faithful have been so patiently waiting for. So now, the debate begins. Where does Fulmer stand in this upcoming class of young White Sox pitchers?

Possible Scenarios

It doesn’t take a Sox aficionado to know that Fulmer will more than likely be part of the 2018 rotation. However, 2018 should see at least a couple of the future Sox pitching stars make their major league debuts. Kopech and Hansen are the two prime candidates. Let’s just say at some point in 2018 we will see a rotation consisting of Rodon, Gioloto, Fulmer, Kopech, and Reynaldo Lopez.

In order for Fulmer to stay in a rotation with names like these, he will need to continue to perform. Although it’s likely he won’t repeat his September 2017 performance over and over again, this doesn’t mean the pressure of the world is on Fulmer. An ERA floating around 3.00 and a walk rate with less than two a game will do. In fact, one win in every three starts should do in this phase of the rebuild.

He has put himself on the radar to be a part of the future White Sox rotation. In order to remain an option in a stacked group of young pitchers, Fulmer must continually improve. The advantage he has over his fellow young group of pitchers is his experience. He has thrown 35 major league innings. Kopech and Hansen have thrown zero. Fulmer must use this time in 2018 to continue to show he can be a part of a future potential dominant rotation.

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As long as “Filthy Fulmer” pitches to the caliber that he is capable of, we will see more of him.  Renteria and the front office will have no option but to add him to the group of young super pitchers. Hopefully, as fans, there will be no option but to label him as a super pitcher.