Before Friday night’s game against the San Diego Padres, the Washington Nationals made the decision to place one of the pitchers in their rotation, Doug Fister, on the 15-day disabled list due to tightness in his forearm. The team will call up A.J. Cole from triple-A Syracuse to fill Fister’s spot on the 25-man roster:
Last night, Fister struggled against the San Diego Padres as he was not able to get hitters out with two outs. San Diego’s offense roughed him up for seven runs on eight hits over the course of two innings. The two innings pitched by the 31-year old right hander was the fewest innings thrown in any start during his Nationals career.
This season, teams have been able to make contact against Fister and work their way on base. In seven starts, he has walked ten batters. That is the third highest walk total in the rotation behind Stephen Strasburg (11) and Gio Gonzalez (16).
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Plus, that sinker has stayed up in the zone a lot, which has led to him giving up a team high five home runs this year. Plus, teams are hitting .291 against him. One of the reasons for that is there isn’t much velocity on his fastball. According to Fangraphs, Fister’s average velocity on his fastball is at 86.1 mph, which is the lowest of his career.
A.J. Cole will be with the major league club for the second time this season. He made his big league debut on April 28 against the Atlanta Braves. In that start, Atlanta sat on the fastball and made the 23-year old pay. Cole gave up nine runs (four earned) on nine hits, struck out one, and walked one over two innings. At Triple-A Syracuse, the right-hander is 0-1 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts.
The question going forward for the Nationals is whether or not Cole becomes a mainstay in the rotation if Fister has to miss a significant amount of time. Tanner Roark has been of key value to the Nats bullpen this season because manager Matt Williams has been able to use him in every sort of situation.That being said, he would be the best long-term option for the rotation.
Roark is coming off a season last year where he went 15-10 as a starter with a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts. Regardless of who fills Fister’s spot, it will be a blow to the Nats rotation and it means that guys like Strasburg and Gonzalez will need to be more consistent to help the other two pitchers in the rotation, Max Scherzer and Jordan Zimmermann.