When the “journeyman” pitcher throws his first pitch in 2014, he will be doing so for the third team in four seasons. Last year, Doug Fister finished 56th among starting pitchers on ESPN’s player rater and his 3.67 ERA was his worst since 2010. His 1.31 WHIP was the worst of his career. What should we expect from Fister this season?
I’m just gonna come out and say it, I
like love Fister this season and I expect him to bounce back and finish 2014 as a top-30 starting pitcher. There are a few big reasons driving my Fister love.
First off, he’s left the AL for the NL, and that historically has been an extremely beneficial move for starting pitchers. A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers and then to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals are just a few recent examples of successful transitions to the NL. It’s impossible to deny benefits gained from getting to pitch against an opposing pitcher rather than a designated hitter, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m high on Fister in 2014.
Secondly, he no longer has to pitch with the very poor Detroit Tigers infield behind him. Tristan Cockroft provided listeners to ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast with an absolutely fantastic stat: Doug Fister’s BABIP on ground balls and line drives hit to the left side of the infield was 68 points higher with the Tigers than it was with the Seattle Mariners. This is extremely significant because during his time with the Tigers, Fister had Miguel Cabrera manning the hot corner, and Cabrera is as bad on defense as he is good on offense.
Third, Fister’s not just going to the NL, he’s going to the NL East, which might just be the worst offensive division in baseball. As of now, the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and Miami Marlins all appear to have lineups that project to finish in the bottom third of MLB offensively, and the Atlanta Braves could very easily lead the majors in strikeouts. Fister could easily get 10-plus starts against divisional opponents and in the NL East, that’s a huge positive.
Currently, I have Fister as my 18th starting pitcher (he was 20th, but recent injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Cole Hamels have bumped him up), well ahead of his current average draft position. He’s the 27th starting pitcher being selected in ESPN leagues and 34th in Yahoo! leagues. I have him ahead of guys like Mike Minor, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore.
I have Fister projected to win 14 games to go along with a 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 161 strikeouts. Fister should provide fantasy owners with a tremendous amount of value in 2014.