The Chicago Cubs have signed reliever Michael Fulmer, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Michael Fulmer was one of the best relief pitchers remaining on the open market. Fulmer, who previously spent time with the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, is a former AL Rookie of the Year and AL All-Star, but primarily as a starting pitcher.
After suffering severe injuries to his pitching arm, Fulmer transitioned to the bullpen, where he has thrived. With Detroit, he spent some time as a closer, notching 14 saves in 2021 in a bullpen that otherwise struggled quite a bit.
With the Cubs, he’ll be asked to take on a middle relief role, and perhaps move to the back end when called upon.
Chicago Cubs sign Michael Fulmer: What does it mean
Michael Fulmer has struggled against left-handed hitters, as his splits last year suggest. Against righties, opposing hitters had a .544 OPS in 167 plate appearances. Against left-handed hitters it was a very different story, as they registered a .930 OPS in 109 plate appearances.
Any team that employs Fulmer — in this case Chicago — must be wary of that fact, and have a left-handed reliever, or a right-handed reliever which excels against lefties, at the ready.
It’s unlikely that Fulmer will ever fully return to his glory days as a starter with the Tigers, even in a relief role. He should not be closing games for any team which considers itself a contender. Still, as Bleacher Report points out, a solid comparison for Fulmer at his best would be Adam Ottavino.
The Cubs surely know this, and are fine with that comparison. This is a productive signing for a Chicago bullpen that needs bodies and reliable production. Jed Hoyer and Co. are on the cusp of contention. It will be filler like Fulmer that helps them make that step.