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Entries in Doug Fister (5)


Rangers Can't Resist Fister's Fastball

Doug Fister pitched the Tigers into the win column in the ALCS last night, surrendering two runs in 7.1 innings while striking out three and walking none. The former Mariner got 73 strikes in 102 pitches (72 percent), but he didn't do it by flooding the zone with strikes. Rather, he baited Rangers batters with fastballs off the plate.

Fister threw his fastball three-quarters of the time against Texas. Manager Jim Leyland praised Fister's approach: "In and out, moving the ball around, moving the ball both sides of the plate." Facing a lineup with seven right-handed hitters, the NBA-sized righty mostly pitched inside but did hit the outside corner to keep 'em honest:

Location of Fister's fastball vs. Texas, 10/11/2011

Seventy percent of Fister's fastballs were thrown inside, 21 percent were tossed outside and just nine percent caught the middle part of the plate. Rangers batters got very few cookies, and they couldn't really back off the plate to better handle those inside pitches with Fister also working the outside corner at times.

You'll note that most of those fastballs were thrown out of the zone. In fact, just one-third of Fister's fastballs were over the plate. But Texas hitters couldn't lay off, chasing 32 of 51 out-of-zone heaters (63 percent). That's nothing new for Fister, though: he leads all MLB starters in fastball chase percentage this season.

While he's not a power pitcher, the former non-prospect has improved his fastball velocity considerably -- he sat at 91 mph Tuesday and hit 93 -- while still featuring lots of movement. On average, Fister's fastball tailed in on righties by about 10 inches compared to a pitch thrown without spin. The average for righty fastballs is slightly more than half of that.

Combining average velocity with that much movement makes Fister's fastball a plus offering. Opponents have slugged just .319 against the pitch this season, the lowest clip among qualified MLB starters.

With each passing start, the six-player swap that brought Fister (under team control through 2015) to Detroit in July looks like even more of a masterstroke. Armed with a darting fastball that has climbed from the high-80s, Fister is no novelty act. He's just one of the best starters in the DH league.


Can Fister Expand the Zone vs. the Yankees?

Doug Fister surely hopes that his second ALDS appearance goes more smoothly than the first. Fister, making a quasi-start after Game One resumed on September 30, gave up six runs in 4.2 innings while striking out six and walking a pair of batters. He has his bullpen to thank for that run total, but Fister did jam the bases in the sixth inning before Al Alburquerque served up a grand slam to Robinson Cano. Part of the problem,'s Barry Bloom notes, is that the Yankees stopped chasing so much in the sixth:

This is what happened when Game 1 was resumed: After a rough start, Fister had the Yankees jumping at breaking pitches out of the strike zone, and he recorded five quick whiffs by the time the end of the fourth inning came around.

The Yankees then stopped hacking and made Fister put his pitches in the zone. That resulted in a couple of walks and a big crooked No. 6 on the scoreboard in the sixth inning. Had Robinson Cano's shot that hit the top of the left-field fence in the fifth inning and hopped into the stands instead of back on the field for a double, matters would have been even worse.

Through the fifth inning, Fister got Yankees hitters to go after 13 of 34 pitches (38 percent) that he threw out of the strike zone. In that ill-fated sixth, they chased just four of 19 pitches (21 percent) that Fister tossed off the plate. Whether Fister can entice New York to swing at those would-be balls may well determine which team goes to the ALCS.

No pitcher in the American League is more adept than Fister at getting hitters to chase pitches. Opponents have gone fishing 36 percent of the time that Fister has thrown a ball off the dish, compared to the 29 percent average. In particular, he gets lefties to lunge off the outside corner and righties to take awkward hacks at pitches in on the hands:

 Hitters' swing rate by pitch location vs. Fister

The Yankees, however, are among the game's most disciplined teams in terms of laying off these pitches. Aside from Cano, who swings at anything between the Bronx and Hoboken, New York's projected starting lineup tonight knows the zone well:

If Fister can get swings on junk pitches, he could pitch the Tigers into the ALCS for the first time since 2006. If not, he could be in for another long night -- and a short start.



Fister Fans a Baker's Dozen

A Tigers righty fanned 13 hitters on Labor Day. It wasn't Justin Verlander. Not Max Scherzer, either. Rather, Doug Fister, the 6-foot-8 beanpole known more for limiting walks and inducing hitters to chase his four-pitch mix off the plate, K'd 13 Cleveland Indians as Detroit stretched its AL Central division lead to 7.5 games.

Here's a breakdown of Fister's baker's dozen:

- Eight on fastballs (4 swinging, 4 looking)

- Four on curveballs (3 swinging, 1 looking)

- One on a changeup (1 swinging)

Nine of Fister's punch outs came against left-handed hitters. He got three swings and misses for a K with the fastball vs. lefties, and caught three others looking. Two swung through curveballs, and one chased a changeup off the plate:

Location and release velocity of Fister's K's vs. Cleveland lefties, 9/5/2011

Against righties, Fister got one swinging strikeout and one K looking with the fastball. His curve also got one swinging K and one strikeout looking:

 Location and release velocity of Fister's K's vs. Cleveland's righties, 9/5/2011

That curveball was key to Fister getting ahead in the count and being in a position to punch out hitters. He threw 21 of his 26 curves for strikes on Monday, locating them low and inside or high and away to lefties:

Location of Fister's curveballs vs. Cleveland, 9/5/2011Since Detroit acquired him on July 30 (along with David Pauley) from the Mariners for LHP Charlie Furbush, RHP Chance Ruffin, 3B Francisco Martinez and OF Casper Wells, Fister has done his best Cliff Lee impression. He's got a 36-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 2.68 fielding-independent ERA in 44.1 innings. Combine that with his work as a Mariner, and the former seventh-round pick who didn't sniff Seattle prospect lists has 4.5 Wins Above Replacement this season. That's more than Tim Lincecum and Chris Carpenter, among many others. Who knew?

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