It is that time to put Doug Fister to the test. Is he a great player that the Nats will benefit from having or will he just be an average player that goes through the motions and gets the job done. Well I am going to bet that he is great. Here is why.
He is a ground ball pitcher. He throws a ground ball more than 50% of the time. That is something that goes a long way with a pitcher in a relatively pitchers ball park. Especially with the defense behind him in the infield. He was great in Detroit with Johnny Peralta, an average short stop defensively, and now he has Ian Desmond in the six hole. That will make him better. Zimmerman and LaRoche are also upgrades, but not by much, to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. He can now rely on his defense to get outs when he does get those ground balls.
Since he throws so many ground balls he also has a high left on base percentage. He is always in a situation for a ground ball double play. With a more solid defense behind him, he has the ability to roll even more twin killings in the next two seasons at least.
That leads me into my next point. His walk rate is unbelievable. He walks a batter five percent of the time. While he strikes out batters 18% of the time. That is a solid ratio and I expect it to get better with the move to the National League. The 7-8-9 hitters in a National League lineup are completely different than an American League lineup. With that in mind, he keeps runners off the bases. If he can get through the first six hitters in most lineups, he won’t have to press as hard against the final three batters of the order. If he can continue to keep runners off base he will be a great pitcher in the National League.
Now since he is a ground ball pitcher he doesn’t give up too many long balls. He gave up .60 homers per nine innings last season. He did pitch in a pitchers ball park but even with that it won’t fluctuate too much moving to Nationals Park. 8.9% of the fly balls hit against Fister are home runs. That is a good number to be at. Again he pitched in a pitchers ball park, but shouldn’t change too much.
Fister is coming in to be the Nationals three or four starter depending on Jordan Zimmermann but his 4.1 WAR was better than any Nationals pitcher last season. Over the past two seasons his WAR is 23rd best in the majors. So yes, Doug Fister is flying under the radar and I love it.
Finally his ability to pitch in the National League. In a very small sample of just over 79 innings Fister has held opponents to a .226 average and has just a 2.04 ERA. Don’t forget it is a small sample size so don’t expect that all the time, but on paper it looks good. Along with that he is very consistent, so I don’t see this changing too much even with more innings. He has been one of the most consistent pitchers in all of baseball the last three seasons, it’s just that nobody notices because of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
So does Doug Fister fit in with the Nationals? How about a huge YES! The Nationals got a gem of a pitcher and didn’t have to give too much back in return. He was cheaper than David Price and Scherzer and could end up being even more consistent than those two. Everything is on paper now, but once the season starts we will all see that Doug Fister will solidify this rotation and make it the best in all of baseball.