Apr 27, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) reacts after giving up a run against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
After the latest implosion in a 2015 season already marred by inconsistency and poor performance, Doug Fister, one of the Nationals best pitchers from last year, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with forearm tightness last Friday. He gave up seven runs during his start last Thursday against the Padres, getting yanked after just two innings.
Right now, it’s not entirely certain what exactly is bothering the 31 year old right hander. He’s looked off for most of the season, lacked velocity on his pitches, and being unable to consistently keep his sinker down in the zone. Over the course of his first seven starts, Fister has pitched to a 4.31 ERA and a WHIP of 1.412, a far cry from his 2014 numbers of 2.41 and 1.079 respectively.
The question that the Washington Nationals must answer is who will fill in for Fister while he recovers, and who is the best fit to step into the rotation should he miss extended time? The Nationals, with all of their pitching talent, certainly don’t have a dearth of possible candidates, but there are a couple of guys who are more likely to get the nod than others.
The first option is A.J. Cole. The young start of the Nationals Minor League systems was called up to replace Fister on the 40-man roster, and he’s already seen a little action out of the bullpen. While he struggled in his first start, he’s someone who figures big into the Nats long-term plans, so getting him any playing time at the big league level is a plus.
There’s also Tanner Roark. He’s been relegated to the bullpen for 2015, but he did well in 2014 as a starter, and could give the Nats peace of mind should Fister be out longer than 15 days.
So, who is the best option to take Fister’s spot, starting Tuesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field? We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each option before naming the best choice.