Who is he and where did he come from?
He’s former all-star and Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer. Fulmer, 30, has spent his seven-year major league career in the Midwest with the Tigers and Cubs. He began his career in the rotation but has since transitioned to a relief role. Due to arm injuries, he’s likely to remain in the pen going forward.
Is he any good?
As Dan Secatore wrote earlier this offseason, winning the Rookie of the Year carries some weight, despite the following years. Fulmer followed up his award-winning campaign with another strong season, posting a 3.83 ERA in 165 innings and making the all-star team. In 2018, Fulmer ran into trouble; he transformed his reliable cutter into a more traditional slider and was punished for it. The slider found the zone too often, the righty gave up more home runs, and his ERA ballooned. After the season, Fulmer had Tommy John and didn’t pitch again until 2020.
When Fulmer returned, his velocity fell, and he struggled to punch hitters out. Aside from a few starts the following season, this marked the end of Michael Fulmer, starting pitcher. The Fulmer that pitches out of the bullpen, while not the same pitcher who won Rookie of the Year, has been a solid relief arm. Across 175 innings, he’s posted a 3.43 ERA, including a 27.6% strikeout rate in 2023. He regained his velocity, went back to his hard cutter, and added a sweeper. He’s particularly tough on righties (.208 batting average against) but has some difficulties against lefties due to horrible fastball locations. Following the logic in my Andrew Bailey piece from earlier this week, my suggestion is to simply stop throwing the four-seamer. His cutter and changeup should be enough to navigate those at-bats and decrease his walk rate. He won’t be a lockdown closer, but there’s still plenty of upside.
What’s his role on the 2024 Red Sox?
Now would be a good time for me to mention that Fulmer underwent “UCL revision surgery” and is unlikely to pitch in 2024. At this point, It’s not unfair to question if George R.R. Martin is running the Red Sox.
I promise, the
Winds of Winterpitching is coming. I’m working on it, and it will be here soon. The prospects too, they’re on the way. It’s a long process, and I want to make sure we get it right. I’m working really hard on it, but I promise the pitching and prospects are coming.
So, to answer the question. Michael Fulmer won’t really be on the 2024 Red Sox. He’s on the James Paxton plan, although a less expensive one. It’s a low-risk, high-ceiling move that fans are surely sick of, but it’s really not hurting anyone.
Show me a cool highlight.
Here’s four minutes of Fulmer mowing hitters down on his way to the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year. Pretty cool if you ask me.
What’s he doing in his picture up there?
[Ed.’s Warning: Actual answer follows] Congratulating his catcher on a job well done after securing the win in a game against the Colorado Rockies. That’s right, Fulmer wasn’t just another starter-turned-long reliever to eat innings, he was actually pitching in high-leverage spots for the Cubs.