Power of the Fist(er)

By Patrick Erickson

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When you look at Doug Fister’s stuff you wouldn’t think to yourself: this is a guy who is capable of holding a major league team hit-less for six innings. But that is exactly what the Seattle Mariners starter did last night against the Baltimore Orioles.

Fister had a solid debut late last season, going 3-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 61 innings of work. He threw six one-hit innings in his first major-league start against the White Sox. But he was not guaranteed a rotation spot this season.

Partially helped out by the injury to Cliff Lee, the Fresno State product made the opening-day roster.

For a 6-8 guy, Fister does not have an overwhelming fastball. He does not have a devastating slider. In fact you could say he is to tall pitchers as Tim Lincecum is to pitchers of his statures. He doesn’t fit the bill. But he does use his height to his advantage.

Throwing directly over the top, Fister pounds the bottom of the strike zone. And he locates incredibly well.

With his throwing motion and height, Fister’s pitches are deceptive, often looking like a ball to crush until the last possible moment when they dip and dive out of the bats way.

Fister won’t be striking out a ton of hitters, just 36 in those 61 innings last season, but he will induce a ton of ground balls. And with the new defensive-minded approach in Seattle, it could be a match made in heaven.

As someone who had the fortune to see Fister at AAA affiliate Tacoma, he was always solid, but it would have been difficult to predict this kind of success.

How he holds up through a whole year is key. After several very good early starts last season, hitters figured him out a bit and roughed him up a couple times. The early signs are that Fister is back on track.

Lee is set to return May 2nd, but Fister is unlikely to be the victim sent to the bullpen or back down to Tacoma.

He may not have the 95 mile-per-hour fastball, but Fister is making his impact on the majors, one ground ball at a time.

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