White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper had been keeping his pitching assignments close to the vest during the the early part of Spring Training. News broke Thursday night that Fulmer would be the starter as the White Sox opened the Cactus League Season against the Dodgers and it was confirmed Friday morning. Fulmer, who’s 2016 MLB debut out of the bullpen did not yield great results (11.2 IP over eight games with an 8.49 ERA) is eager to get things going again in 2017–this time in the rotation.
Last Spring, Fulmer was given a marquee start (inasmuch as any Cactus League start can really be “marquee”) in a night game against the Dodgers. He was pushed, aggressively and with purpose, throughout spring and into the season. That culminated with his promotion into the Sox bullpen in mid July.
“Last year was a year that I needed,” Fulmer said. “In baseball you’re going to face a lot of adversity and I feel like that’s what I did. I learned from those mistakes and I was able to work with some guys in our organization that got me turning up. I’m really comfortable right now and I’m looking forward to staying there.”
Fulmer wants the challenge. As the top guy on a heralded Vanderbilt pitching staff in college, he’s used to having expectations put on him. He’s also used to meeting or exceeding those expectations. One key to rising to the challenge for Fulmer has been creating an angle on his stuff.
“I think the difference between forcing weak contact and getting hit hard is the angle on your fastball and other pitches,” Fulmer said. “I think that for me, being a smaller guy, it’s easier for me to be flat. I think [the coaching staff] has really put an emphasis on keeping me tall and working down in the zone with the angle.”
At it’s best, Fulmer’s stuff has never been a problem. His fastball has plenty of life and, when he’s on, his curveball can be used as a wipeout pitch or a strike-getter. Control, however, seemed to escape him during his stint in the Majors in 2016. If Fulmer forces his way into the rotation this season, it will be because he’s learned to harness the stuff with more consistent control.