Fultz Flash Helped Tribe Reach League Championship Series in 2007
By Christian Petrila
This week’s flash in a pan entry was a reliever who never could quite get above the line of mediocrity; but for one season with the Indians, he had one of his best years and it helped the Tribe make it all the way to the American League Championship Series.
This week’s forgotten Indian is lefty reliever Aaron Fultz.
Ironically, Fultz’s lone season in Clevelandwould be his last season in the Majors. With the Indians in 2007, Fultz put together a 4-3 record with a 2.92 ERA (the second lowest of his career) in 37 innings. He allowed 31 hits while striking out 28 and walking 18. He would also make the playoff roster and make one appearance in each of Cleveland’s two playoff series. In Game 3 of the ALDS against the Yankees, Fultz pitched an inning and allowed two runs (none earned) on two hits and one walk in an inning. AgainstBostonin the ALCS, Fultz entered in the sixth inning of Game 1. He didn’t even record an out as he walked two batters before being replaced by Tom Mastny.
Fultz’s career began when the San Francisco Giants selected him in the sixth round of the 1992 draft. The Giants traded Fultz to the Minnesota Twins after only a season. Fultz would spend a few seasons in the Twins organization until they released him prior to the 1996 season. Just a few days later, he signed with the Giants again. However, it would still be four seasons until he would sniff MLB action.
After eight long seasons in the minors, Fultz finally got the long-awaited call to the MLB to begin the 2000 season. He made his debut on Apr. 5 against the Marlins. He pitched 2.1 innings while allowing one run on three hits. In his rookie year, Fultz went 5-2 with a 4.67 ERA in 69.1 innings. He also made the playoff roster for the Giants that year, as he pitched Game 3 against the Mets. Fultz was the losing pitcher as he gave up a dramatic walk-off home run to Benny Agbayani.
Fultz and the Giants made it back to the playoffs in 2002, when they made it all the way to the World Series before a gut-wrenching collapse at the hands of the Angels. He made at least one appearance in every postseason series that year. However, that would be his final season by the bay, as he signed with the Texas Rangers after the season. His final career numbers in San Francisco included a 10-5 record with a 4.66 ERA in 181.2 innings.
The next two years were a bit of a struggle for Fultz. He played for two teams and had an ERA over five each season. In 2003, he played for the Rangers. It was not pretty for the southpaw, as he went 1-3 with a 5.21 ERA in 67.1 innings. After the season, he signed with a team he was with in the early stages of his career, the Minnesota Twins. If it was an improvement over the year before, it was slight. He went 3-3 with a 5.04 ERA in 50 innings.
After that season, the Philadelphia Phillies claimed him off waivers. His 2005 season was nothing short of rejuvenating. While his ERA the last two seasons was a combined 5.13, his ERA in 2005 was well under half that. His first season in Philadelphia saw him go 4-0 with a 2.24 ERA in 72.1 innings. His opponents were able to solve him a bit more in 2006, but he still went 3-1 with a 4.54 ERA. All in all, his final career numbers inPhiladelphiaincluded a 7-1 record with a 3.38 ERA in 143.2 innings. That was enough for the Indians to make a push and sign the lefty. The rest is history.
Fultz did his best to prolong his career in 2008 by signing a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies. However, the Rockies released him after pitching just one inning. He would play in Taiwan for a little bit before playing independent ball for Newark, but he called it a career in 2009. Fultz couldn’t stay far away from the game, though, as he became the pitching coach for the Williamsport Crosscutters before the 2012 season.
The 2007 season was filled with guys who are often forgotten, but played a crucial role in helping that squad reach the ALCS. Just like Chris Gomez a few weeks ago, Aaron Fultz contributed to that squad’s success.