With Spring Training just around the corner, Cubs make another addition to bullpen
The Cubs have added another veteran to bolster their bullpen.
The team has come to terms with Michael Fulmer on a contract, per reports.
Free-agent right-hander Michael Fulmer in agreement with Cubs, sources tell @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 10, 2023
The 29-year-old righty pitched to a 3.39 ERA, 1.366 WHIP and a 113 ERA+ across 67 games for Detroit and Minnesota last year. Fulmer was the 2016 AL Rookie of the year with the Tigers and an All-Star for Detroit in 2017. He spent most of the 2021 season in the bullpen, pitching to a 2.97 ERA in 69.2 innings of work and was a full-time reliever in 2022. Fulmer has a 2.98 ERA in relief over the last two seasons.
From 2020 to 2022, Fulmer saw his slider usage increase, from 23.3% of the time in 2020 to 63.4% in 2022 — and to good effect. In plate appearances ending in that pitch, opponents hit just .232. The Cubs have been known for developing and enhancing slider grip in usage with pitchers, with Adbert Alzolay, Keegan Thompson and Hayden Wesneski as some prime examples.
The addition of Fulmer fits in the mold of some of the past bullpen acquisitions the Cubs have made, trying to find value and maximize their results once they enter the Cubs pitching infrastructure.
“’We’ve had a lot of success with these guys — ‘here’s what we see in you,’” Jed Hoyer said at the Winter Meetings. “We’re not the only team that does that, but certainly that’s a big part of the game now, is try to talk to pitchers about here’s the things we can tweak, here are the things we can do to make you feel better and try to put them in a good position to succeed.”
Fulmer becomes the second free agent addition to the Cubs bullpen, along with Brad Boxberger. The team hasn’t super active in reshaping the bullpen this winter and that’s partially given the market but also because the team is seeing the sprouts of developing their bullpen entirely in-house.
“My goal, my hope is that over the next 2-3 years that those guys are all coming out of our system,” Hoyer said at Cubs Convention. “The real goal is to provide great stuff in the bullpen that’s also coming.”
In 2023, the Cubs will hope the likes of Alzolay, Thompson and lefty Brandon Hughes can be complemented by veterans like Fulmer and Boxberger.