Red Sox 2017 Postseason Prediction: Doug Fister will be the No. 3 starter

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Doug Fister
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Doug Fister /

Doug Fister’s recent brilliance on the mound has earned him the chance to be the third starter in the Boston Red Sox rotation this postseason.

With the Boston Red Sox a few short weeks away from securing a spot in the postseason, it’s time to look ahead at how the starting rotation lines up for the playoffs.

We know that Cy Young candidate Chris Sale will lead the way as the ace of the staff. He should be followed by Drew Pomeranz, who has undoubtedly been the team’s second best starter. After that, the rotation has been a mixed bag for most of the season. Only recently has another starter emerged to make a strong case for being the third option. I’m as surprised as the rest of you that pitcher turned out to be Doug Fister.

Fister wasn’t even on the roster until the Red Sox claimed him off waivers in June. The Los Angeles Angels, now fighting for a Wild Card spot, couldn’t find room for him in their league-average rotation so Fister opted out of his minor league deal to become a free agent. A Red Sox team that had struggled to fill the back end of the rotation amidst injuries and inconsistency scooped him up off the scrap heap in hopes that Fister could do a more serviceable job of eating some innings.

Thus far the 33-year old has rewarded the Red Sox with much more than we could have expected. Fister got off to a rocky start with the organization, losing his first five decisions while his ERA inflated north of 6.00. The lack of results briefly cost him his spot in the rotation, but when David Price landed back on the disabled list the Red Sox were forced to give Fister another shot.

Since rejoining the rotation on July 31, Fister has been outstanding. He’s 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA and 44 strikeouts over his last 48 1/3 innings covering seven starts.

Fister defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in his most recent outing Wednesday night to pick up his fifth win of the season. He has now tossed at least seven innings while allowing five hits or less in four consecutive games. Since 2000, only five other Red Sox pitchers have accomplished that streak.

It’s been a while since Fister has appeared on the postseason stage. His last playoff start was in 2014 to wrap up his career-best season with the Washington Nationals. He blanked the San Francisco Giants over seven innings, outdueling Madison Bumgarner to help the Nats avoid being swept in the NLDS. Anyone who can beat one of the best postseason pitchers of this generation can have a rotation spot in the playoffs on my team.

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Fister has made nine postseason appearances, including eight starts. He’s 4-2 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his postseason career. Considering the other rotation candidates have combined for zero playoff wins, Fister’s experience could prove invaluable.

There’s a solid chance that the path to the World Series will take the Red Sox through Cleveland to face an Indians team that swept them in last year’s ALDS. While the Tribe did rough him up for five runs a few weeks ago, Fister has also beaten them twice this season. That’s more than we can say for Sale. Fister is 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA in three starts against Cleveland this year, including a one-hitter the last time he faced them.

Boston’s postseason journey may also put them up against the Houston Astros, who currently own the league’s best record. Fister has yet to face them this season but that doesn’t mean he isn’t familiar with the franchise. He was a member of the Astros rotation last year, only to be let go following one disappointing season with the organization. Might Fister have something to prove if he faces his old squad in the postseason?

The Red Sox rotation lacks postseason success, which makes Fister’s track record reason enough to warrant a rotation spot. The fact that he’s been one of the league’s best pitchers over the past five weeks cements his status as a lock for the postseason rotation.

Next: September Standings Watch

When the Red Sox need to call on a starter for a potentially pivotal Game 3 in the ALDS, they’ll need someone they can trust. Outside of the two studs at the top of the rotation, there’s no other pitcher on this staff more trustworthy in a big game than Fister.