Nationals Baseball: Doug Fister

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Doug Fister

Fister was important to last year's Nats team, pitching very well.  Fister is a free agent after this year and all indications are that he is going.

No one seems to care.

Other than the "and Fister is really good" tag lines that follow discussions with anyone that half-follows the Nats, there is rarely any one talking about him. Why is that? Is it because he has only been here a year? Is it because he didn't turn down the Nats, they turned down him (or at least stopped talking to him)? I just find it curious that's all.

But really it's helpful because the Nats should not resign Doug Fister.  He'll be 32 next year. He's pitched one full season in the last three. His FB speed and strike out rates have been on a steady decline since 2012. Coming into this year he was a bad bet for anything more than a 2 year contract in my opinion.

Of course the question then for Nats fans is not is he going to be ok the next couple of years, it's is he going to be ok in 2015.  And... well I don't know.

Those concerning things coming into this year have all reared their ugly heads. He's been injured again. His FB speed is way down. His K rate is down again among the lowest of starters. Along with that his HR rate is up, his walk rate is up and his bread and butter, getting guys to hit ground balls, yeah that's not happening as much this year. 54.3% GBs in 2013, 48.9% GBs in 2014, 41.4% so far this year.

Of course it's only been 10 starts and this is only his third post injury return. He could just be revving up. Or he could have gone over the cliff we've mentioned occasionally with him.

What else can we say...
He's getting hit harder (Hard% 25.7% last year, 30.8% this year), they are pulling the ball more (40.9% -> 46.6%), he's relying on his FB was more than he used to (50.7% -> 63.7% -> 70.3%) , guys are making more contact (86.8% -> 88.8%) and missing the ball less in general (8.2% -> 6.1% -> 5.3%).

Basically it's mostly explainable by the lack of FB speed. He's throwing an easier to hit ball and guys are hitting it, harder. However some of these trends are more than just last year to this year. Why didn't we see more problems last year? Well he got guys to hit balls weaker, on the ground more, and had a better defense behind him. He may not have missed bats but he made their contact bad. Whether that was movement or pitch sequence, I don't know.

One thing I can tell you is that he's not leaving the ball up more often. He is more down in the zone than he might have ever been. Is he being too consistent and not spreading the ball around? Is he not being as good at pounding certain spots that worked before (outside to lefties, insider or low and away to righties)? That's possible but why fewer groundballs? I'm still thinking it's a speed thing, not a location one.

11 comments:

cass said...

It's all about his velo. He never threw hard to begin with and it's been steadily decreasing every year. Last year he produced a career-worst 3.93 FIP but managed a career-best 2.41 ERA. This year the BABIP gods are no longer smiling on him and I don't think anyone is thinking about re-signing him because I don't think anyone believes he's likely to be good in future years. It's easy to roll the dice with Giolito, Ross, or Cole rather than bring back Fister.

Chaz R said...

He's definitely throwing his fastball more and his velo is down. You'd have spend some time looking at Pitchfx, but I suspect you're right about location. I also suspect he's not getting as much movement on his fastball. He does need more time to come back from injury. He's such a hard worker, I wouldn't be surprised if he's able to get back close to his career numbers, but not as good as 2014.

SM said...

Given all those performance statistics, the question is this: How long do you wait before deciding his usefulness--to the rotation, or to the team--is at an end?

John C. said...

I agree that there's very little chance that the Nats re-sign Fister. Obviously they would very much like to see a strong rebound from him both (1) to help the team through the rest of the season and hopefully the playoffs; and (2) so that the team can safely make a QO to him. I think it's pretty clear that JZim and Span get a QO at this point, and likely even Desmond. Desmond has cost himself a lot of money, but he will still almost certainly get enough of a guaranteed return to outweigh a one year guarantee for a larger AAV. And in the unlikely event that Span or Desmond accepted a QO, the team could probably live with it. hell, they'd be delighted if JZim did - but the chances of that are roughly the same as the team extending a QO to me.

I think that being able to get a comp pick on the back end was a real part of the Fister trade calculation for the Nationals, and it would be very disappointing if they did not.

Bjd1207 said...

First I have to admit my predictions when ZNN & Fister were both shaky were exactly wrong. I was more concerned about ZNN because I thought he was more reliant on velo to produce results and wasn't sure it would come back fully. Like Haper's post yesterday pointed out, his velo is climbing back consistently and his location is stellar and so he seems to be back to his form of the past few seasons.

Fister on the other hand, seems to have corrected his early location problems (as pointed out by Harp) but the velo's just not there after the DL stint. Apparently his sinker was more reliant on being fast (or fast enough) than I thought.

@Cass - I'm willing to roll on Giolito or Ross. I can't believe we're still throwing Cole's name out there as a possibility, he's shown me nothing impressive that would lead me to believe he'll be effective in the bigs

Bjd1207 said...

Alright maybe I was a little harsh on Cole, but he's taken a big step back this year in all metrics

G Cracka X said...

Fister may not be having a great season, but I still trust him in pressure situations (like October). He tossed a gem for the Nats in their only postseason win last year (on the road too)

Anthony Rendon said...

I don't feel confident when Doug pitches. That used to be only Gio. I say see if you can trade him now. If not O well, but I don't see him pitching in October anyway.(I understand he doesn't hold much value but try to get something)

Our offense has been solid for all of the backups playing Robinson, Moore, Espi, Taylor, Desmond, and Lobaton are all getting a good amount of time.(Desmond has hit like a backup)

cass said...

I considered just saying Giolito and Ross, but I've heard some people say that Cole might be able to figure things out so tossed his name there as well. I'm not terribly optimistic on Cole, either, but I was making the point we have a few guys we can try and even if one or two of them disappoint, we have multiple options.

Of course, if JZ leaves as well....

Anonymous said...

It's kind of remarkable that the team ERA is as good as it is, considering that we've had three starters underperform as terribly as they have to this point.

Zimmerman11 said...

Vlad Guerrero Jr. was available and the Natspos didn't sign him? Oh the humanity!!! Rizzo gets anyone and everyone with a major league pedigree... but not The Impaler's boy??? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!