The baseball world was thrilled Sunday, as Tigers starter Matt Boyd entered the ninth inning and quickly secured two outs, having yet to give up a hit. Tim Anderson, acting as the final boss, got ahead 2-0 and pounced on an attempted backdoor slider, which hung and caught too much of the outside corner. Anderson’s liner sailed over the head of Nick Castellanos in right field for a double.
As far as the White Sox go, that sums up all of the positives from the game. Dylan Covey, Chris Beck, and Mike Pelfrey each pitched multiple innings and allowed even more runs. Anderson’s double stood as the White Sox’ only hit, with Rob Brantly’s walk representing the only other baserunner on the afternoon.
After the game, Ausmus faced down questions as to why Castellanos—a recent convert from third base to the outfield—had not been pulled for a defensive replacement. It wouldn’t have been a routine play, necessarily, but it is not outlandish to suggest that a defender with better range would have hauled in the catch and clinched the no hitter for Boyd. Castellanos is not fleet of foot and while he may eventually profile better in the outfield than at third, his bat certainly looks less special in right field.
Heading into Sunday’s game, the White Sox had been averaging 8.6 runs scored over the previous eight contests, so the prudent course would be to chalk Sunday up to One Of Those Days and move on.
The biggest news of the weekend was likely Carson Fulmer’s start on Friday evening, his second consecutive outing of 6 innings with only 1 run allowed. Fulmer has had a tough season, getting hit around in Triple-A and getting absolutely annihilated in his first start in the majors this year. So even if his recent run of success has been against Detroit and San Francisco’s weak lineups, he is closing on a high note. Over his last 12 innings, he has struck out 14 against only 4 walks while logging 19 swinging strikes, getting a lot of swings and misses on fastballs above the belt.
Fulmer has good velocity, sitting around 94, topping out as high as 97, and he is able to both cut and sink it as needed. If you watched Corey Kluber in the playoffs last year, you can see what that kind of arsenal can accomplish when thrown with impeccable command. The organization has also raved about his makeup and work ethic.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is unchanged when it comes to Fulmer. His delivery is violent and difficult to repeat, the great life he gets on his pitches also means he fails to consistently pitch to specific quadrants of the plate, let alone hit the glove. There’s still a chance that he could stick in the rotation as a solid back-end guy, but the landscape of the organization has shifted massively since his arrival. When he was drafted, the organization would have loved it if he quickly became a #4 starter to slot in behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, and he represented a disturbingly high percentage of the White Sox’ prospect capital.
Now, as it looks increasingly likely that Fulmer will wind up a reliever—and he’d probably be quite a good one, who could be used for more than three outs at a time—that would still be an acceptable outcome. The plan for the rotation now looks like some combination of Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning, and others.
Fulmer might still be a starter, but the odds are against him. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a really useful piece moving forward, but a few good starts in September should be kept in their proper context.
Lead Image Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports