Young White Sox Starter Brings Element of Surprise in Game 2 vs. Twins

carson fulmer

Rainman M.

Monday, August 21, 2017 12:46 PM GMT

Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 12:46 PM GMT

Two lesser-known starters will square off in Game 2 of a doubleheader Monday between the Twins and White Sox in Chicago. Former College World Series champion Carson Fulmer will be the man to watch against the hot lineup of playoff-contending Minnesota.

Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins

The Twins and White Sox conclude a doubleheader tonight on our MLB Picks. So far, the White Sox are 0-1 in the last leg of the doubleheader this season while the Twins are 4-1. The White Sox have been one of baseball's worst teams after the All-Star Break. They got rid of a lot of significant talent in their roster in order to rebuild for the future. They have lost 6 out of their last 8. However, 4 out of their last 5 games have been one-run games. The Twins are making a playoff push and sit 5 games behind the Indians for leadership in the AL Central. They have won 4 in a row especially due to their awesome offense. They have slugged 9 home runs in their past 3 games and will look to keep slugging in the power-friendly ballpark of the White Sox. However, Miguel Sano joined the disabled list yesterday and both lineups will likely be diluted in strength because they will be playing two games in one day.

Carson Fulmer (0-0 0.00 ERA) makes his first appearance in 2017 for the White Sox. Fulmer will start even though most scouts project him to be a reliever due to his max-effort delivery and lack of size. The lack of size presents mechanical problems for Fulmer, who often has trouble locating his pitches and maintaining command of the plate. When he appeared for the White Sox last season in eight games as a reliever, he produced an exorbitant walk rate and a 8.49 ERA. The highly-regarded prospect, most known for helping Vanderbilt win the College World Series in 2015, was demoted and has been a starting pitcher in Triple A. He enjoyed a hot start to this season but has really been struggling in his last bunch of outings. He has good power stuff-- a fastball whose average velocity is in the mid-90s.

Even though he can't achieve the vertical drop in his fastball that a taller pitcher like Syndergaard or Sale does, his fastball enjoys an arm-side tail despite his overhand delivery. Batters struggle to keep up with its velocity and with its horizontal movement. His curveball complements his fastball by punishing opposing batters who try to brace for his high-velocity fastball. His curveball looks like it will stay in a hittable part of the strike zone but breaks late and sharply, thus inducing batters to whiff. He is also developing a changeup that has a late break and creates a nice change of pace with his fastball. Fulmer has good stuff, but only when he locates them. And that's what he is having trouble doing, especially as he goes later into outings.

Dillon Gee (0-0 3.16 ERA) makes his second start of the season for Minnesota. The long reliever has been bouncing around different organizations in recent years but is starting to find some success in Minnesota. In each of his 4 outings so far with the Twins he has achieved an FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) of less than 3. The key for Gee has been to bring down his walk rate and locate his pitches more effectively. Gee is a finesse pitcher who relies on a combination of 5 different pitches, neither one of which he throws at high velocity. Gee has vastly improved in August because he has reduced the vertical movement of his more important pitches--namely his fastball and sinker- in order to better control their location. His use of the lowest quadrant of the strike zone has increased since July by about 8%, meaning that he is doing a better job of throwing strikes away from the more hittable parts of the strike zone and closer to the hitters' knees.

Verdict

The Twins will miss sorely miss Sano, even if they dominated yesterday without him.  This will also be the second game of a doubleheader, meaning that some lineups will be diluted in terms of ability and fatigue could be a factor. The major reason why I like Fulmer to do well tomorrow against the streaking Twins is the element of surprise that he brings to the fore. There are a lot of atypical aspects to his game, particularly in the ways that he compensates for his lack of height, for instance in the way that his fastball tails despite the overhand delivery and in the way that he complements his fastball with his power curveball. Gee has been pitching well because of his improved ability to locate his variety of pitches in the less hittable parts of the zone. He should succeed against a young but competitive White Sox lineup that is at its worst against right-handed pitchers who are balanced in that they induce a mixture of fly balls and ground balls.

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