It was White Sox pitching futures night Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field, with 2018 staff ace in waiting and likely Opening Day starter Carlos Rodon pitching in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Twins (he was very good), and 2015 first-round draft pick Carson Fulmer starting Game 2 (he was quite bad).
Prospect Lucas Giolito arrived from Class AAA Charlotte, preparing to make his Sox debut Tuesday night. And over in Norfolk, Va., 21-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech pitched well and won his first start for Class AAA Charlotte after an outstanding performance at AA Birmingham.
Rodon (2-4) continued on his strong run by pitching 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball in the Sox’ 7-6 victory. He has allowed, one, two, two, two and two runs in his last five starts, although he needed a season-high 115 pitches to get through this one, striking out nine and walking three while allowing four hits.
At 24, he’s not ready to declare himself leader of the staff. But he’s pitching like he could be when the Sox get to spring training next February.
“We still have older guys” to lead the young pitchers, Rodon said after he lowered his ERA to 3.88.
Perhaps. But Rodon knows the younger guys like 23-year-old right-handers Reynaldo Lopez and Giolito, and Kopech, 21, have places waiting for them on future staffs.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting,’’ Rodon said.
“It’s fun for these guys to be up here and part of this team.’’
It was anything but fun for Fulmer, the 2015 No. 8 overall pick in the draft who struggled when he made eight relief appearances for the Sox (8.49 ERA) last season and had continuing command concerns at Charlotte (5.61 ERA) this season. The Sox activated him as the 26th man for one game in the doubleheader, and after pitching a perfect first inning, he struggled to locate his pitches in the second and gave up three-run homers to Jorge Polanco and Brian Dozier in a 10-2 loss which gave the Twins a split.
Fulmer walked three, committed a balk and recorded four outs before manager Rick Renteria had to pull him in favor of right-hander Dylan Covey.
“They were on every pitch he was throwing,’’ Renteria said. “Didn’t matter if it was fastball or breaking ball. They were on time. They were in synch with fastballs and breaking balls. I don’t know what it was.’’
Renteria said the day before that Fulmer is major league starter material and he stood by that Monday.
“He’ll be back; he’s part of us,’’ Renteria said.
“I can’t get down on myself for it,’’ Fulmer said. “I never will and I’ll be back and definitely have success the next time I have the opportunity.’’
The news from Norfolk on Kopech, acquired with Yoan Moncada and two other prospects in the Chris Sale trade with the Red Sox, was much less discouraging. Kopech gave up two runs on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts over five innings in an outing that got better as it went along.
That has also been a pattern for Rodon, whose command and stuff have improved after his first inning or two.
“We’re trying to figure out what we can do to start that a little sooner,’’ Renteria said.
In Game 1, Yolmer Sanchez drove in four runs with a homer and sacrifice fly, and Jose Abreu also homered to become the first Sox player and 10th player in major-league history to begin his career with four 25-homer seasons. Juan Minaya picked up his third consecutive save.
Nicky Delmonico and Adam Engel homered in Game 2.