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2023 Cubs player profiles: Michael Fulmer

Twenty-eighth in a series. Michael Fulmer was a much-heralded signing, but it hasn’t worked out for him at all. I don’t think he should buy a house in Chicagoland.

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Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Oklahoma City native Michael Joseph Fulmer is a medium-name reliever who had a couple of good years with Detroit as a starter, and still throws pretty hard after having TJS in 2019, but his location isn’t great and he’s having a lousy time of it. 0-4/6.66 ERA/1.562 WHIP ain’t going to make it in MLB for long, not with 13 bases on balls in 24⅓ innings as a companion volume.

He’s really struggled as a Cub and has to be on the bubble. He can’t be optioned to the minors and so he sticks around and even gets into low-leverage situations. The Cubs can afford to eat what remains of his $4 million salary and probably should as soon as they have what they feel is a suitable replacement. Codi Heuer might be that guy. Nick Burdi and Brad Boxberger, also on the IL, are in similar circumstances, occupying spots on the 40-man roster that might be better filled with the likes of Daniel Palencia, Ben Brown, Bailey Horn, or Chris Clarke. Caleb Kilian, Michael Rucker, and Keegan Thompson are all ON the 40 and could well better that production, though Thompson has been struggling in Des Moines as well.

In any event, I don’t see where Fulmer is long for Chicago. I liked the signing but it hasn’t worked out and the sample size is big enough to draw conclusions. Patrick Mooney {$} thought he’d become the new closer.

“They had conversations about (closing), but I kind of inferred it as me having to win a job,” Fulmer said.

That thinking has changed some. And there’s no clear solution at present. The Cubs operate closer-by-committee mostly out of necessity as all of their options have turned bad. Eventually all of those dominoes will start falling, as by now it’s obvious that they are not Great Value, but, at this point, are actually Dollar General.

Fulmer has been especially bad. Opponents are hitting .275/.362/.484 against him for an .846 OPS. That’s definitely not sustainable, and the eye says that those numbers aren’t mistaken. The grand slam he gave up in Los Angeles is probably the most-remembered moment of his Cubs tenure, and the car to the airport is on standby.