It turns out that Carson Fulmer’s dynamite appearance in the Futures Game doubled as his transition to the bullpen.
Multiple reports -- Jesse Burkhart, Dave at Barstool and Chris Cotillo -- all agree that Fulmer will take the 40-man roster spot opened by Scott Carroll’s outrighting earlier in the day, and join Justin Morneau as the newest additions to the 25-man roster before the White Sox open the second half against the Angels in Anaheim.
Assuming Fulmer will be working out of the bullpen and not taking a spot start for Carlos Rodon, it’s a move I agree with. The White Sox are short on swing-and-miss types in relief, and even shorter if David Robertson’s hip problems last past the All-Star break. The time is now, science can wait no longer, children are our future.
The first half ended with Robertson unavailable, Nate Jones recording a four-out save and Zach Duke working more often than not. When Matt Albers is the next best option, that's a recipe for either blown leads or reliever blowouts. Previous injuries to Jake Petricka, Daniel Webb and Zach Putnam already forced the White Sox to try every other compelling arm. There are no good choices left, so the Sox are going for the only one that has a chance to be great.
Fulmer very well could be, and in short order. He restored his old delivery and started seeing the results everybody expected over the last month. His fastball and breaking ball are MLB-caliber, especially since his secondary pitch has multiple tilts, and they’re enough to overcome suspect fastball command an inning or two at a time.
This will just put his future as a starter on hold, if he even has one. Scouts like Baseball America’s crew and Keith Law think he’s best suited for relief due to his caffeinated windup and the max-effort delivery, so maybe the White Sox are just turning into the skid. However, the Sox have surprised before. Like Chris Sale shows, extended time in the bullpen doesn’t eliminate the option to start if the Sox ultimately think he has the goods.
Worst case scenario: Fulmer isn’t quite ready, and has to return to the minors, leaving the Sox in the exact same situation they were before — except they'll know that they’ll have to add an impact reliever from the outside in order to truly reinforce the bullpen. The roster has multiple needs (Ken Rosenthal says the Sox are looking at center fielders), so Rick Hahn may as well try the one in-house option that could deliver a major upgrade over who’s already there.