According to Nationals’ beat writer Bill Ladson, Doug Fister will start the season on the 15-day disabled list due to a right lat strain. While it has been known for a few days that the Nationals’ top offseason acquisition may not be ready to start the season with the team, it now seems that Fister will almost certainly miss at least the first couple of weeks of the regular season.
Fister sustained the injury Tuesday during a Minor League game in which he had been expected to throw 60 pitches. Instead, the right-hander was forced to exit the game after throwing just 15. Fortunately for Fister and the Nationals, the injury has nothing to do with the right elbow strain that made him miss 20 days earlier in the spring.
“Not on any particular pitch, nothing involving the elbow, but took him out after his first inning as a precaution,” manager Matt Williams told MLB.com’s Andrew Simon on Tuesday.
With Fister out of commission for the time being, Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan have both made the opening day roster and will be the fourth and fifth starters respectively. Both players have been competing all spring for the fifth spot in the rotation, and now it looks like that competition will be put on hold until Fister is closer to coming back.
Since the injury cannot be retroactive, the soonest Fister could pitch for the Nationals would be in mid-April, meaning that he will miss the team’s first six games against the Braves. Fortunately for the Nationals, Roark and Jordan are more than capable of taking care of business until Fister returns.
But for the Nationals to accomplish their loft goals, they will need a healthy Doug Fister to round out one of the best rotations in baseball. We should get more clarification over the next few days as to the extent of Fister’s injury and when we can expect to see him back on the mound. Until then, all we can do is hope that Fister’s injury is not more serious than it seems.