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.