Red Sox Year in Review: Top five pleasant surprises of 2017

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Drew Pomeranz
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Drew Pomeranz /
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Injuries left the Red Sox scrambling to fill the back end of the rotation for much of the first half. The solution for solidifying the No. 5 spot on the Red Sox staff came from an unlikely source who wasn’t even with the organization to begin the season.

Following a down year with the Houston Astros in 2016, Doug Fister only managed to receive an offer for a minor-league deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Mixed results at the Triple-A level left the Angels with little incentive to call him up to their major league roster so Fister exercised the opt-out in his contract hoping to land a spot in another team’s rotation.

Opportunity knocked when the Red Sox scooped the veteran right-hander off waivers. As fate would have it, his first start in a Red Sox uniform would come on June 25 against the same Angels team that let him go. While Fister took the loss in that outing, he still delivered a quality start with six innings and three runs allowed.

Fister hit a bit of a rough patch after that, failing to last longer than five innings in any of his next four starts before the Red Sox demoted him to the bullpen for a couple of weeks.

He was given a chance at redemption when another spot in the rotation opened and this time Fister didn’t disappoint. He earned his first win with the Red Sox by holding the Cleveland Indians to two runs over 7 2/3 innings. That outing kicked off a string of seven consecutive starts in which Fister went 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA.

Although he stumbled down the stretch, Fister had done enough during his stint in Boston to earn a start in Game 3 of the ALDS. Granted he was roughed up for three runs before getting a quick hook with one out in the second inning. Still, if anyone told you in April that Doug Fister would be starting an elimination game in the postseason for the Red Sox you would have looked at them as if they had two heads. The fact that he was even in consideration to take the mound in that scenario tells a lot about how the organization viewed a pitcher who entered with little expectations beyond making a few spot starts.