Tuesday: What is going on with Doug Fister?
Yeah, I know, it’s only Spring Training. I’ve seen terrible camps turn into very good seasons for starting pitchers (Max Scherzer 2010), and I’ve seen great camps yield pretty bad seasons (Rick Porcello 2010, Daniel Schlereth 2012). I know a pitcher completely out of rhythm for most of spring can find his mechanics at the end and dominate.
That, obviously, is what the Tigers hope happens with Doug Fister.
In fairness, if you look at Fister’s career Spring Training stats on his player page at MLB.com, his dominant spring last year was an outlier amidst a history of March mediocrity. This is what the Mariners saw from him in their camps. It fits with Fister’s observation that Spring Training is usually a process for him as he builds up towards Opening Day.
That said, the only building so far has been the pitch count. Fister’s work on getting his mechanics down and finding his fastball command has been a lot of labor and little to no progress.
“That’s the biggest thing for me, finding the sinker consistency,” Fister said after Tuesday’s loss, “and it’s not there. It’s been something that I’ve focused on and I’ll continue to work on. It’s just a feel thing. There are times when it’s there and there are times when it’s not, so it’s just a matter of being consistent.”
It’s a release point issue, he says, but it’s not overall command. It’s just his fastball.
“I felt comfortable with the changeups that I threw,” Fister said. “I felt good with the curveball. And even the cutter is coming along. It’s just a matter of being consistent with the sinker. I feel like it’s there. It’s just a matter of being able to repeat it over and over again.”
I couldn’t watch the broadcast, so I didn’t have a constant watch on the velocity on Fister’s pitches. The home-run ball, though, seemed like it was pretty low. Other times, Fister looked to be hitting the low 90s. So it appears the inconsistency might have also been reflected in the velocity.
Fister has two more starts left this spring to get things ironed out. The fact that he has had rough springs like this before and gone on to enjoy the regular season consistency that has been a trademark of his career so far gives every reason to expect he can get through it this time too — as long as he’s healthy, which is believed to be the case.