Red Sox 2017 Report Cards: Starting Pitcher Doug Fister

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Starting pitcher Doug Fister
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Starting pitcher Doug Fister /

No one expected anything out of Doug Fister when he joined the Boston Red Sox, but he proved invaluable down the stretch.

The Boston Red Sox received exemplary performances from a variety of players throughout the 2017 season. Undoubtedly, some members of the club disappointed, and the season ended earlier than everyone would have liked. Yet, other individuals stood out for their strong play. One such individual joined the team mid-season.

At the time, he was overlooked and unheralded. Many doubted he would contribute much to the team, if he even made it to the majors. Others felt his spot would have been better used on a younger arm. Yet, in the face of it all, Doug Fister just kept on pitching, and became the Red Sox third-best starter in the second half.

When Fister came over to the Red Sox in mid-June, most wondered if he had anything left in the tank, and even more doubted he would ever contribute significantly to the team. After a month, it seemed like the doubters would be proven right. By July 25, Fister’s ERA had ballooned to 6.08, and it looked like the downward trend of his career was set to continue.

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Fister has, at the very worst, been dependable for most of his career. From 2011-2013, his ERA hovered between the high-twos and the mid-threes. Then, in 2014, he put together a career campaign. He finished with a 2.41 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, and 16 wins for the Washington Nationals. Fister’s profile as a pitcher was on the rise.

However, he found he could not maintain his success. In 2015, he made just 15 starts out of his 25 appearances, and his ERA rose to 4.19. In 2016, with the Houston Astros, Fister turned in a 4.64 figure. He found himself in the minors to start the 2017 season, and teams weren’t showing much interest in him.

Then, near the end of July, he flipped a switch. From July 31 to September 6, Fister allowed three or fewer runs and pitched more than six innings in six of seven starts. During that time, Fister had a stranglehold on the third slot in the rotation.

His early struggles can largely be attributed to the Red Sox shoddy defense. Errors and unearned runs skewed his pitching lines, and forced him to throw more pitches, which led to early exits. While he can’t entirely escape blame for his perfromances in June and July, the Fister we saw in August most accurately represents the pitcher he was for the Red Sox and for the majority of his career.

Starting Pitcher. . Doug Fister. B+.

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Following that September 6 gem, Fister lost a bit of his mojo. He turned in a pair of real stinkers in the two starts following that one. While he was better in his final two starts of the year, the damage to his overall stats had been done. He finished the season with a 4.88 ERA, but that shouldn’t be the story of his year. He gave the Red Sox something when they expected nothing. He allowed them to field a full, reliable rotation down the stretch. Fister may not be an ace, but Boston wouldn’t have won the division without him.