By Tommy Rancel //
Doug Fister serves as a shining example of why a pitcher’s win-loss record can be misleading. At the time of his trade from the Seattle Mariners to the Detroit Tigers, the right-hander had a 3-12 record. Based on record alone, it would seem the Tigers were making a horrible decision.
That said, his 3.33 ERA and solid defensive independent metrics suggested he was a much better pitcher than his record would indication. Although Fister was not allowing many runs to score, his offense was scoring even less. In games he started, the Mariners averaged less than three runs a game.
Since the trade, Fister has made five starts for the Tigers. He has already doubled his win total on the season (6) despite a slight uptick in ERA (3.45). Why? Because the Tigers are averaging 4.5 runs in his starts.
Wins aside, Fister has been a quality pitcher by any metric. His season ERA stands at 3.35 with an FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 3.24 and an xFIP (expected FIP) of 3.89. Standard FIP measure things a pitcher can control without outside influence: strikeouts, walks, and home run. Meanwhile, xFIP measures the same things except it normalizes home runs to the league average, further stripping luck from the equation.
What Fister will not give you is much of a boost in strikeouts (5.46 K/9 on the season). On the other hand, he is very stingy with walks. His current 1.75 BB/9 is third best in the American League. Thanks to his low walk rate, his 1.19 WHIP is good for a top-15 spot in the AL. As a member of the Tigers, he has 17 strikeouts and just two walks in 28.2 innings.
Because of his win-loss record, Fister is available in over 85% of leagues according to his Bloomberg Sports card. This is a ridiculously low number considering his is in the top-15 in: innings pitched, walks allowed, WHIP, and ERA. He is also 13th in opponents average (.256) among AL starters with at least 170 innings pitched.
As teams expand rosters come September 1st, you should do the same with your team and Doug Fister. In addition to his own numbers, consider the fact that the Tigers play a favorable schedule down the stretch. Of their final 28 games, 15 come against teams that are a combined 85 games under .500. When you factor in all of the above, Fister may be the difference between becoming a champion or being the runner-up in your league.
For more on Fister and potential September additions, check out bloombergsports.com