Here we are, Monday September 4th, beginning of a 9 game homestand. There is just 25 games left of the regular season. Even with a recent tough stretch of 4-7 in their last 11 games, the Red Sox still have a 3.5 game lead. The horizon of a favorable plethora of matchups deem that all hope is not lost. As spring training approached we all wondered who would our saving graces be for when the season draws to an end. Obvious mentions would be newly acquired Chris Sale, Kimbrel in his 2nd yr, the talented young players in Betts, or vets like Pedroia. After this Yankees series… Man, Thank God we have Doug Fister.
Throughout his career, Fister has been a good 3 or 4 pitcher in his times with Seattle, Detroit and Washington. Before the 2016 season he signed a 1 year deal with Houston to rebuild his value. While he did make all his 32 starts, pitching 180 innings… career worst regular season ERA of 4.64, career worst WHIP of 1.43, and only had 115 Ks. The 2016 offseason was an everlasting endurance for him as he hoped to latch to pretty much any team that would come calling. While his fellow players started signing as soon as the calendar flipped over to November, he didn’t sign with a team until May 22 with the Angels. It was a minor league deal that had an opt out if he didn’t make the majors by June 21.
He never made it up to the big league club in an Angels uniform. He made 3 starts for them – 15.2 innings, 7 Runs, 5 Walks, 10 Ks. On June 23 the Red Sox claimed him on waivers as they were looking for more stability at back of rotation. David Price & Eduardo Rodriguez we both on disabled list at that time. His first start in a Red Sox uniform was ironically against said Angels. He had a respectful first outing, 3 earned runs in 6 innings, walking 3 and striking out 6. The offense behind him only scored 2 runs, so took the loss in that one.
Over the next month, fans would groan (guilty) when he came into the game. His next 6 appearances (some in relief), he was 0-4 with a 9.42 ERA, 19.1 innings, 22 Hits, 20 Runs, 4 HRs, 14 Walks, 15 Ks. The Sox brass refrained from placing him on waivers. In their crystal ball, they read doing so would be an unwise thing to do. Price suddenly went back on the disabled list, and Fister left the bullpen to take Price’s slot in the rotation. There would be no trades for starting pitching help, Fister is what we have for the rest of the season.
In the 6 starts since July 31, he has gone 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA, 41.1 innings, 30 Hits, 14 Runs, 3 HRs, 11 Walks, 35 Ks. In the past couple weeks especially, has been flat out dealing, and that includes his undeserving loss to the Orioles where the offense left runners on pretty much every inning. Wade Miley was Houdini that night. Sandwiched around that was masterful complete game gem. Allowed only 1 hit & 1 run, homerun that led off the game. No hitter after that batter. His most recent start on Friday, the lone win against the Yankees. 1 run in 7 innings.
With rejuvenated confidence, and thinking about what would be last chance for a big payout in the offseason, I have no doubt he’s not going to let a slip up happen for himself. He’s assured to get at least one start in the playoffs. Price working his way back to be a good weapon out of the bullpen. Come next month we all might be saying – “Okay Fister, do what you do for at least 6 innings. Then Price, Reed, Kimbrel, game over”.
I’m sorry I doubted you, Doug. As much as people can get upset about it being just a 3.5 game lead…. Just think about what if Fister never donned a Sox uniform, might already be out of 1st place. Looking forward to Fister Day on Wednesday.