The Chicago White Sox will hope Carson Fulmer can prove himself worthy of a bullpen spot in 2020, a season that could be his last chance to shine.
Carson Fulmer has simply never been able to put it together for the Chicago White Sox.
Over parts of four seasons at the major league level, Fulmer has amassed a 6.56 ERA, 6.44 FIP, 1.637 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, and 6.1 BB/9.
None of those numbers are particularly pretty, especially the walk rate that exemplifies a complete lack of control.
His struggles forced the team to abandon the idea of using him as a starter in 2019, only using him in that capacity twice.
The 26-year-old showed little improvement as a reliever (mostly) in 2020 as he had a 6.26 ERA, 6.29 FIP, 1.683 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, and 6.6 BB/9 over 27 1/3 innings.
Despite the limited success, the .742 OPS against him as a reliever wasn’t dreadful and, theoretically, could represent that he wasn’t as bad as the numbers showed.
That being said, nobody expected the 58th best prospect in baseball of 2016 (MLB Pipeline) to be in flux four seasons into his career.
Fulmer will have one more chance in 2020 to break out in a relief role for the Chicago White Sox.
His lack of minor league options (FanGraphs) almost ensures that, as the team would risk losing him to another club since they would have to designate him for assignment otherwise.
Even if it wasn’t about team control, having the right-hander open the season on the 26-man roster to start the 2020 season makes all the sense in the world.
The right-hander was actually very impressive in spring training, turning some heads with a 1.86 ERA and 1.034 WHIP to go along with 11 strikeouts as compared to only three walks.
Now, the fact that he hit three batters certainly shows that control is going to be an issue he will have to overcome to achieve success this season.
However, the strong spring in a relief role is definitely an encouraging sign for him as the season gets underway and likely solidified his spot on the team to open the year.
It would really be tough to justify deciding to DFA a former top prospect who had a good spring.
Another team is almost certain to take a chance on him in that scenario, maybe even a division rival like the Detroit Tigers or Kansas City Royals. Both teams will most likely be at the top of the waiver wire all season and have nothing to lose by bringing him on.
Keeping Fulmer, at least to start the season, is an absolute no-brainer.
What happens from there, though, is dependent on Fulmer. If he can become a dominant reliever, the Chicago White Sox won’t consider testing the waters by demoting him.
But, if he proves to be a mediocre or even below-average reliever, Carson Fulmer will almost certainly be leaving the South Side and will find himself joining an extensive list of former-top prospects, turned busts.