Fuller quickly rising up bullpen ranks for New Britain Bees

Published on Wednesday, 22 May 2019 21:29
Written by RYAN CHICHESTER

@ryanchichester1

NEW BRITAIN - Had last week’s series finale against the Lancaster Barnstormers not gotten away from the New Britain Bees, manager Mauro Gozzo would have been ready to give the ball to reliever Jim Fuller in a high-leverage situation.

Fuller, who has emerged as one of the team’s top relievers so far this season, waited for Gozzo’s call while the Bees were clinging to a 3-2 lead, but a five-run seventh inning from the Barnstormers turned a tight contest into a deflating blowout. Fuller may not have taken the mound, but Gozzo’s plans for his surging lefty were telling.

“One hundred percent,” Gozzo said when asked if Fuller has earned late inning work after his solid start to the season. “Absolutely. He’s a seventh- to ninth-inning guy right now. I like what I’m seeing right now.”

Looking at Fuller’s numbers so far, it’s not hard to tell why Gozzo is so adamant about a promotion for Fuller. Through nine innings of relief work, Fuller boasts a 0.96 ERA with 11 strikeouts.

Opposing batters are hitting just .130 against the southpaw this season, as the 31-year-old continues to prove his worth, most recently a scoreless seventh against the Long Island Ducks, in which he struck out two batters to maintain a lead, and a scoreless frame against Lancaster on Tuesday night to protect a one-run lead in the eighth.

Fuller’s hot streak has moved him into the conversation of pitching in the eighth and ninth innings more often, according to Gozzo.

Of course, this isn’t anything new, as Fuller pitched to a 2.09 ERA and struck out 52 batters in 43 innings with the Bees last year.

“It’s nice,” Fuller said. “I’ve been feeling good and healthy, just going out there trying to compete.”

While some pitchers have taken time to settle into the new season, Fuller has needed no such adjustment, storming out of the gate in a familiar area. A graduate of SCSU, Fuller is thriving in his second season with the Bees after spending time with the New Britain Rock Cats back in 2014.

“It all depends,” Fuller said. “We didn’t have much of a spring training this year, so it might take a little longer for some guys, but I’ve been feeling good.”

Fuller currently leads the Bees with four holds on the year, including a scoreless frame in the seventh inning of a one-run game against the Barnstormers last week.

Whether he enters the game in a crucial spot like the one against Lancaster or a blowout scenario that he watched from the bullpen on Thursday, Fuller feels ready to compete regardless of the situation, even if other relievers have trouble adjusting to different scenarios.

“I think some guys have that mentality and are in close games all the time,” Fuller said. “Pitching is not easy.”

The art of pitching is certainly not easy, but over the past three weeks, and even the season prior, Fuller has made it look that way.

Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or rchichester@newbritainherald.com



Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain Bees on Wednesday, 22 May 2019 21:29. Updated: Wednesday, 22 May 2019 21:31.