Could Doug Fister’s Spring Troubles Affect Rick Porcello?


Detroit Tigers’ fans and media greatly dissected Bruce Rondon‘s struggles earlier this spring. This is understandable considering the Tigers have lacked for meaningful story-lines during Spring Training. Surprisingly, while Rondon has steadied himself, one other player has had a dreadful spring: Doug Fister.

Doug Fister has struggled this spring. Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Fister is an interesting player. He’s quiet and gets lost in the shuffle of the Tigers’ rotation. Justin Verlander is the leader, the ace, and the face of the starting pitching core. Max Scherzer has been here for longer than Fister, and his dual eye hue makes him memorable both on and off the field. Anibal Sanchez was greatly discussed this offseason–should he stay or should he go. He stayed, and now fans are hoping he lives up to his lofty price tag. Finally, Rick Porcello has been the subject of trade rumors seemingly since the final out of the World Series, keeping his name prominent.

That leaves Fister to be an after-thought at times (other than his name being used in suggestive ways on social media). He usually goes out and does a solid, yet unremarkable job–aside from setting an AL record for consecutive strikeouts.

After allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings Tuesday, including a Luke Scott grand slam, Fister’s spring ERA ballooned to 7.36 through five starts.

Conversely, Porcello has had a spectacular spring, posting a 2.50 ERA over 18 innings. By doing so he has greatly increased his trade value, with the Padres and Rangers the most aggressive (rumored) suitors. Should the Tigers turn down any and all offers, Porcello will be the fifth starter. Sorry Drew Smyly.

The question that may be asked, however, even if the Tigers get a terrific package proposed to them for Porcello, should they pass because of Fister’s troubling spring?

Hopefully not. With that said, any package for Porcello better be worth it. It was just a few weeks ago when the rumor was swirling that the Tigers would trade Porcello for the Cubs’ Carlos Marmol. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and won’t happen.  If Rick should go, the team had better get back some nice prospects. Otherwise, just keep the guy.

Rick Porcello has been very good in Spring Training, increasing trade rumors in the process. Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Either way, the Tigers should not be making decisions based on Fister’s struggles. Certainly it is true a weak Fister and no Porcello make the Tigers a worse team, however there is history that says Fister will indeed turn things around.

As’s Jason Beck pointed out, Fister has had his share of spring troubles, and he is a notorious slow starter. Consider his 3-12 record when coming to Detroit in 2011. Many Tigers’ fans may have been shocked the team would give up Casper Wells and three others to nab him from the Mariners. However, his 8-1 record with a 1.79 ERA in 10 regular season starts changed their minds quickly.

Last season he battled early season struggles and injuries to begin the year 1-6, but went 9-5 in 17 starts the rest of the way, posting a respectable 3.45 ERA. Fister has also been rather solid in the two postseasons with Detroit, posting a 2.97 ERA in just over 36 innings, spread over six appearances.

So perhaps Doug doesn’t rise to the occasion of Spring Training, and struggles a bit to regain form at the start of the season, but when the stakes are high, he brings his best stuff.

So fear not, while Fister’s struggles are noteworthy, they certainly are not alarming–and should not affect Porcello’s status whether he stays or goes.