Doug Fister’s First Start a Success


Being the center-piece in any big trade amounts to a lot of pressure, especially when you’re traded from an awful team to one contending for the playoffs. Doug Fister looked like he felt no pressure last night. Last week, the Tigers traded Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells, Francisco Martinez, and a PTBNL (all reports point to Chance Ruffin) to the Mariners for Fister and David Pauley.

While Fister earned only his fourth win of the season last night, he’s much better than a guy with only four wins. In 17 of his 21 of his starts with Seattle, his team scored 2 or fewer runs. It’s virtually impossible to win like that. Last night, the Tigers scored four runs for Fister, which was more than enough for him to earn the “W”.

It was an unusual performance for the 6’8″ righty; for the first time all year, he struck out nobody. In fact, the first strike out of the night for Tiger’s pitchers came on the last batter of the game. However, Fister got 16 ground balls to compensate for his lack of strikeouts. While he allowed 3 runs 8 hits over 7 innings of work, only two of the runs were earned. Of the two earned runs, one could have easily been prevented, if not for an arrant throw by Jhonny Peralta turning a double play.

I was at the game last night and noticed a few things about Fister in his debut. First, he has unbelievable command. Of his 99 pitches, 73 were strikes. He worked in, out, up, down, and pounded the strike zone all night. While he only got two swings and misses which was a bit of cause for concern, he neutralized Texas hitters with his off-speed offerings. According to Pitch FX, he threw 10 changeups and 5 curveballs, all for strikes. His slider was a strike 14/22 times as well.

What stuck out to me most was that Fister uses his large frame to throw downhill. His 2 seamer has late life down in the zone, and it seems like he’s throwing faster than he really is because of his unbelievably lanky build. The ball seems to get on hitters pretty quick. He’s by no means a soft tosser, as evidenced by his most recent game charts, which indicate he could average 92-93 on his fastball if he wanted to. The guy knows how to pitch, plain and simple. He’s an innings eater, a gamer, and even an athlete, and it showed when he dove off the mound to nab an Elvis Andrus‘ grounder early in the game.

All in all, even if Pauley never amounts to anything, Fister is going to be exactly what the Tigers are looking for out of their 3 or 4 starter going forward; someone who pounds the zone, eats innings, and gives them a chance to win every time he goes out there.