Results tagged ‘ Doug Fister ’
Long answer short: Not sure, but there are some clues.
Jim Leyland said Tuesday he still wasn’t ready to reveal his rotation order after Justin Verlander’s Opening Day assignment, even after announcing Rick Porcello will complete the rotation. This is now getting into bizarre territory; usually when the Tigers open a season on the road, Leyland announces his starter for the home opener shortly after his Opening Day starter, if not at the same time. At this point, we still don’t know who that might be. Whether it has anything to do with the Twins having not announced their starters yet is anyone’s guess.
What we have right now, though, is a pitching order for the final games of Grapefruit League play. Justin Verlander will get his final spring tuneup on Wednesday, then Anibal Sanchez on Thursday, then Max Scherzer on Friday, then Doug Fister on Saturday. Verlander is starting on an extra day of rest Wednesday so that he can be on turn for Monday on his regular four days’ rest.
It’s possible the Tigers could slot Sanchez, Scherzer and Fister in order from there and have them all pitching on an extra day’s rest. It’s also possible Scherzer and Fister could close out the series in Minnesota on four days’ rest each, though it seems unlikely they’d make Sanchez wait more than a week before his first regular-season start. All we can gather for sure is that there’s no way Fister could go from wrapping up his spring training on Saturday to starting off his regular season on Wednesday, especially the way he has pitched.
The widespread belief in recent weeks has been that Scherzer would start the home opener as a reward for last season. However, he has been very good pitching at Target Field the last couple years (3-0 in 3 starts, 4 runs, 14 hits, 19 1/3 innings, 23 strikeouts). Now, he would be on six days’ rest going into the home opener, two more days than normal. Fister doesn’t have that same history in Minnesota, though he has been good at Comerica Park since becoming a Tiger.
To get back to the original question: You can read quite a bit into this week’s order and come up with a good guess at the rotation. I wouldn’t be ready to swear to that quite yet, though.
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.
It’s a formality, but still worth noting that the seven Tigers eligible for arbitration all filed on Tuesday. The list includes three members of rotation (Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello), two members of the starting lineup (Alex Avila, Austin Jackson), lefty Phil Coke and outfielder Brennan Boesch.
Basically, what it means is that none of them have apparently reached deals yet to avoid arbitration. There’s still plenty of time for that, but the next big milepost in the process will come on Friday, when they’ll exchange arbitration figures with the team. That’s usually the step that gets both sides moving towards a deal, because it provides a range to use to find a middle ground. From there, the two sides have until at least Feb. 4 to negotiate before hearings begin taking place.
The Tigers have not had to go to an arbitration ruling since Dave Dombrowski took over as GM in 2002. They’ve come close a couple times, but usually they settle soon after the two sides exchange numbers.
The news at this point appears to be positive on Doug Fister after the line drive off his head. He made it through the flight back from San Francisco OK, according to manager Jim Leyland, and he’ll be examined further today.
“I did talk to him on the plane last night, and he seemed fine,” Leyland said. “He’s a little sore, but there didn’t appear to be anything that looked alarming like loss of memory. He looked fine, his eyes looked fine, and the trainers have checked him out, so I think he’s fine.”
The Tigers had their entire training staff on the trip, as well as two team doctors.
Turns out the Tigers didn’t need to wait until the last minute to decide on Doug Fister. He has been officially scratched from his scheduled start Saturday against the Angels. Drew Smyly will start in his place.
Fister continues to be bothered by a right adductor strain in his groin. It will mark the third time this season that injuries have forced him to miss time.
The fact that the Tigers will wait until Friday night to make a roster move suggests they’re not expecting to have to put Fister on the disabled list. Feasibly, they could use next Monday’s off-day to move everybody up and push back the next spot until next Saturday. Practically, though, it would only make a day’s difference.
“We will obviously have to make a move at some point to get Smyly on the club so he can pitch Saturday,” Leyland said.
Nothing new on Doug Fister’s status for Saturday’s game against the Angels, but at least we have a good idea who will start in his place if he can’t go.
Manager Jim Leyland confirmed Wednesday that left-hander Drew Smyly was pulled from his start at Triple-A Toledo Tuesday night after an inning as a precaution — not for his own health, but for Fister’s situation. If Fister can’t pitch Saturday, Smyly most surely will.
“I would say that’s probably true,” Leyland said.
Fister, who has an adductor strain in his right groin, was scheduled to play catch on Wednesday off flat ground, not off a mound. That won’t be the final determination, but it should give them an idea how much it’s limiting him.
“There’s still some soreness there,” head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. “We’re aggressive, but we have to be smart aggressive.”
Jacob Turner filled the role of Mud Hens starter on call for most of the summer until the Tigers traded him to Florida last month. Adam Wilk did it early this season. Andy Oliver did it for nearly two years. Even Casey Crosby got a shot earlier this season.
Now, is Drew Smyly the next in line?
With Doug Fister questionable for his next scheduled start with a right adductor strain, and Smyly’s start Tuesday night for Triple-A Toledo lasting only one inning, you have to wonder.
It wasn’t a bad inning for Smyly, 13 pitches with no hits, a walk and a strikeout. There were no reports of injury coming out of his start on the road at Lehigh Valley. What it does is keep Smyly’s arm fresh in case the Tigers need him to come back on three days’ rest and start in Doug Fister’s place Saturday against the Angels.
The Mud Hens were rained out in Lehigh Valley on Monday, so there’s no one completely on turn. The only other clear option would be Wilk, who started for Toledo on Sunday and has ample experience with the big club. One problem with Wilk is that the Mud Hens will most likely need him on Friday, and the Tigers might not be sure whether Fister can go by then.
One catch with Smyly, though, is that he hasn’t pitched deep into games since joining the Hens at the end of July. He hasn’t gotten through five innings in any of his five starts since the Tigers optioned him, and his 4 2/3 innings last week marked his first time getting through the fourth.
When Jim Leyland was asked today if he has ever had a team with as many rotation injuries as what the Blue Jays have dealt with, his answer eventually drifted to his own team. That might have been a pretty good hint that something wasn’t right.
Then Leyland updated the situation on Doug Fister, who is dealing with what Leyland called a “groin issue.”
It’s a big enough issue that neither Leyland nor Fister is certain he’ll make his next scheduled start on Saturday.
“We’re taking it day by day,” Fister said.
The tightness was a problem on Fister’s warmup pitches before his opening inning Sunday against Baltimore, but he was able to pitch through it without making it any worse.
“I felt it a little bit early on,” Fister said. “It ended up feeling tight afterwards.”
What happens if Fister can’t go isn’t clear. Triple-A Toledo was rained out Monday night, so the only pitcher who’s close to being on turn for Saturday is Adam Wilk, who started for the Mud Hens on Sunday. Drew Smyly last pitched last Friday, and he hasn’t pitched through the fifth inning since he started pitching again near the end of July.
The pitching news coming out of Saturday’s win was a little bit surprising. Manager Jim Leyland decided to go ahead and move Justin Verlander up to start Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on his standard four days’ rest, despite 127 pitches over six innings against the Reds this afternoon. The extra rest for Verlander before this start was a big factor.
When asked if that means Rick Porcello will have his start moved up to Wednesday, however, Leyland said he wants to wait and see on Doug Fister, who had an encouraging session here. Fister is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, so he could start the middle game of the series at Wrigley.
Fister is dealing with a left side strain coming out of his Memorial Day start at Fenway Park. He has been throwing off of flat ground, but throwing hard. If he feels good in a mound session, that could be the trigger that gets on out on the mound again as soon as possible.
No word on how far Porcello would be pushed back if Fister’s ready, or if Casey Crosby would move to the bullpen.
UPDATE: Sunday’s Tigers notes list Porcello as the scheduled start for Wednesday. Will check during pregame interviews later today to see if that’s now a lock.
On the bullpen front, Octavio Dotel said he’s feeling better, but still not ready to go. He’s hoping that if he feels good throwing on Sunday, he can be available in the bullpen Tuesday in Chicago.
With the radar showing a steady line of showers coming through this evening, the Tigers postponed Monday’s series opener against the Royals. They’ll make it up as a single game on Monday, Sept. 24, which was a common off-day for both teams before the Royals’ third and final visit to Detroit Sept. 25-27.
Thus, the Tigers’ final homestand is now 10 games in 10 days. They’ll also close out their regular season with 16 straight games following their final scheduled off-day Sept. 17.
That could have a minor effect on the Tigers’ playoff push if those games still mean anything, or even if the Tigers are cruising to the playoffs at that point. Shorter-term, the postponement makes a big difference in the rotation.
While the Royals are pushing their starters back a day, the Tigers are scratching Duane Below and sending him back to the bullpen. The way manager Jim Leyland talked about Doug Fister’s road to return, this was sounding like a spot start for Below regardless.
If Fister gets through Wednesday’s rehab start for Triple-A Toledo well enough, Leyland said Monday afternoon, he’ll likely start Monday for the Tigers in their series opener in Seattle. It’ll be his first meeting with the Mariners since Seattle traded him to Detroit last July.
Below, meanwhile, moves back to the bullpen, which is where Leyland valued him most the way he was pitching.
Rick Porcello, who was already scheduled to pitch Tuesday, will still pitch Tuesday. He’ll just be pitching opposite Luke Hochevar instead of Jonathan Sanchez. Justin Verlander will pitch opposite Sanchez Wednesday afternoon.