MLB.com has an article (previewing tonight’s game in Chicago) about Max Scherzer, whose reemergence has given the Tigers a second ace behind Justin Verlander. You could even say that the article is borderline disrespectful in ignoring Doug Fister – the Tigers third ace. Particularly after Fister held Chicago to two hits through seven innings in earning the victory last night. Where’s the love, MLB.com?
Sep 11, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
Doug Fister’s season has been – perhaps – a little bit of a disappointment thus far. He has battled nagging injuries and hasn’t been as effective as he was down the stretch in 2011. That’s a little bit unfair, though: down the stretch last season he was even better than MVP Justin Verlander. In 10 starts (and one relief appearance) for the Tigers in 2011 Fister went 9-2 with a 1.79 ERA. Those are ace numbers. Fister did have 3 rough starts in a row in late June and early July battling issues with mechanical consistency resulting from those nagging injuries, but in the 11 starts since Fister is 8-3 with a 2.49 ERA and over 8 Ks per 9 innings. Those, too, are ace numbers.
For the season as a whole Fister’s numbers are very good, if not awe inspiring: a 3.52 ERA and a 3.39 xFIP. 3.5 strikeouts per walk and a 50% ground ball rate. He is not the soft-tossing innings-eater that I imagined the Tigers were getting (proof that Dave Dombrowski knows his stuff and I do not) – he is dominating pitcher. He can do better – a chunk of those runs allowed are due to injury – but many “aces” sit with ERAs close to 3.52. Zack Greinke has a 3.68 ERA. Still an ace. Cliff Lee has a 3.50 ERA. Still an ace. C.C. Sabathia has a 3.56 ERA. Still an ace. Of course you could make the argument that none of those guys is really achieving his full ace potential due to those high 2012 ERA numbers and that would be fair. But if you’re going to argue that Max Scherzer is the Tigers second ace (right now) despite his 3.85 ERA in 2012 because of his 8-3 record and 2.70 ERA in his last 11 starts don’t forget the Big Fist.