2011 ALDS: Previewing Doug Fister

ALDS Game One suspended
Cashman: Sabathia will start Game Three on Monday
(Jason Miller/Getty)

Five of the Yankees’ first eight picks in the 2005 draft have reached the big leagues, and one of those picks was Doug Fister. Taken in the sixth round out of Fresno State, Fister did not sign with New York and instead went back to school for his senior year. The Mariners took him in the seventh round the next year, and put him in their rotation three years later. Two years after that, they traded him to the Tigers. Two months after that, he’s starting Game Two One of the ALDS against the team that first drafted him.

Fister will inherit a somewhat unique situation following last night’s suspension, entering the second inning of a 1-1 game. The Tigers still have 24 defensive outs to get, the Yankees just 21. Let’s get to know the former Yankees’ draft pick…


A command and control monster, Fister posted a 57-5 K/BB ratio in 70.1 IP across ten starts (and one relief appearance) after the trade to Detroit. His 1.79 ERA with the Tigers is stellar, and his overall season numbers were very good: a 6.07 K/9 with a 1.54 BB/9 and a 47.5% ground ball rate. Fister doesn’t have much of a platoon split.

Pitch Selection

(via Texas Leaguers and FanGraphs)

A five-pitch pitcher with two different fastballs, the name of Fister’s game is contact and quick outs. Linear weights indicate that his two breaking balls are just a touch below-average, less than one-third of a run below-average for every 100 thrown. FanGraphs lumps the two fastballs together, but collectively they’re almost a full run better than average over the course of 100 pitches. The change is his most effective and also least used pitch, leading me to believe the linear weights data might be falling victim to some sample size noise.

The usage patterns indicate that Fister attacks all hitters generally the same way, just with a few more fastballs to righties and a few more changeups to lefties. The overall lack of swings and misses isn’t surprising considering how around the plate he is. Fister’s a huge dude (6-foot-8), and he gets good downhill plane on everything judging by the strong grounder rate.

Pitching Pattern

(via FanGraphs)

Another straight forward guy, Fister doesn’t pitch backwards as much as you might expect someone with his stuff to. He will get ahead with the fastball, but is just as likely to throw his slider as he is his curveball and changeup with one strike. The slider seems to be his go-to pitch with two strikes.

Extreme strike-throwers like Fister always throw a wrench into things because the Yankees can’t sit back and wait for him to paint himself into a corner. Well, they can do that, but they’ll be behind in the count before you know it, and that leads to defensive at-bats rather than aggressive attempts to do damage. Luckily, Fister will allow the Yankees to put the ball in play, and Detroit’s defense is nothing to write home about (especially in the outfield corners and at both short and first).

ALDS Game One suspended
Cashman: Sabathia will start Game Three on Monday
  • Tyrion Lannister

    The fact of the matter is that MLB screwed us. They never should have tried to start that ballgame. We better crush Fister today and make up for the disadvantage they created for us. Fister ain’t facing the Royals and White Sox anymore. This is the AL East.

    • fin

      LMAO, MLB’s plan was to waste the biggest match up and hyped game of the ALDS, with rain. Really, you think MLB scrwed the Yankees, really? The Tigers had the all world, Cy Young, MVP, best pitcher in the history of baseball going tonight, what did they do to them?

      Explain the disadvantage, please?

      • Grit for Brains

        I don’t think he was saying it was an evil diabolical plot but it did screw us…as it did DET, but since DET was planning on going with 4 starters, the Yankees with 3, it does screw the team relying more heavily on the scheduling as laid relying on the ability to use 3 starters more. It also will screw Leyland’s bench up for tonight, a problem not there for the Yanks.

    • fin

      love Tyrion btw, until the last book when they made him give up. He was the best character in the series, im sure the auther will bring back.

    • nsalem

      In my opinion everything that happened last night could not have worked out better for the Yankees. CC still may start twice and Verlander is going once, We forced Leyland into a bad position by the lefty righty pitching switch. We have 3 more outs than the Tigers How did we get screwed? As Fin said please explain yourself. What were you thinking when you made this comment. To say this without any explanation is mindless and really drags down the quality of this site. It especially sucks because of the quantity of your posts. To me saying stuff like this with no explanation is like throwing garbage on the streets. Please share your thoughts Tyrion.

    • Carl LaFong

      Ok, it’s tied up 1-1 after an inning and a half, & it’s raining too hard to continue so the tarp is rolled out, the field is covered, & we all wait out a rain delay that never ends & the game is — suspended?

      What the heck is that?

      This suspended business is beeswax, folks, & I don’t care if it does give the Yankees a slight advantage on the offensive side w/one more turn at the plate should they need it.

      If both sides are scoreless or tied & it’s before the end of the fifth inning & it rains too long, the game is a push, should be considered a rainout, & a brand new game should start when the weather permits play to resume on the next playable day.

      You want to keep all the statistics from the rained out game, be my guest although it strikes me as counterfeit as well, but this one and-a-half inning thing is still a rainout in my book, & Nova & Fister, in this case, should start today’s game in the top of the first inning.

      Starting this game in the bottom of the 2nd is bogus, it’s not really baseball, & imo, it delegitimizes the entire game & series. How can they do this? I’m so disgusted! TBS, FOX, & whomever else is broadcasting this thing is supposed to cover the games, not dictate the games to the point that they drain it of any resemblance to real baseball w/real regular season baseball rules. IMO, doing this sucks, & I hate them for doing it this way!

      • PaulF

        Your only argument is “it’s not really baseball.” Well, yes it is. So calm down.

      • AndrewYF

        No, it would be unfair to the Yankees who pitched 2 innings of one-run ball, as opposed to the Tigers who pitched only 1. Why should things that actually happened on the field not count?

      • Grit for Brains

        Very legitimate complaints. Well said.

      • nsalem

        Are you Tyrion???? I think you are. If so, you didn’t tell us why the Yankee’s are at a disadvantage and you are actually reversing course saying the Yankees do have an advantage. The reason they have this rule is so no one gets penalized in the event they have a lead. Also why do you find it necessary to use different names? IMO everything you say sucks.

        • Carl LaFong

          No, I’m not Tyrion, I’m Carl LaFong, capital C small a small r small l, capital L small a Capital F small o small n small g, & the Yankees are NOT at a disadvantage. The same can’t be said for baseball fans, though.

          The game last night was washed out w/the game tied up. That’s a rainout. I suppose a case could be made if one of the two teams was leading that the game should be suspended & resumed at that point today because it is the post-season — yada, yada, yada, bs, but once again, it think it’s a specious argument. The game is rained out if it rains too hard to complete five full innings of play unless the home team is ahead after 4 & a half. Since the game didn’t even get to the bottom of the 2nd & they were all tied up anyway, the game should be called, & you start a brand new game today starting in the top of the first w/no one out & nobody on & no score in the game. New ballgame. Anything & everything else on this is BS. Oh, yeah, & so are you & your obnoxious opinion you low-life!

          • nsalem

            Actually the rule is quite fair .It was made to protect that holds a lead and is quite a compelling argument. If the Yankees had scored 5 or 6 runs and they called it a rain out you would be complaining that calling it a rain out wasn’t fair. To start the game over and calling everybody else’s opinion BS is the specious and disingenuous argument.
            Very interesting how Tyrion underuses punctuation and Carl abuses his punctuation. You really are making an effort. It would be quite fitting if you chose Norman Bates as your next handle.

            • Carl LaFong

              Yes, of course, I’m Tyrion disguising my punctuation under-usage w/punctuation over-usage in order to throw the casual fan off the track, but no, you’re too sharp to fall for such an obvious trick such as that, eh assalem?

              Today’s game should start fresh in the top of the first. The suspension & resumption of game 1 is asinine which no doubt accounts for your appreciation of it.

              One of the anomalies of baseball is that sometimes it rains, & sometimes it rains after a game has started, & sometimes that rain doesn’t stop, & sometimes if the game is already underway & hasn’t completed 4 & 1/2 w/the home team in the lead or 5 complete w/the road team leading or both tied, the game is a wash & it’s REPLAYED starting from scratch on the next available playable date.

              Regardless, though, to restart a game that’s tied up & only in the bottom of the 2nd inning makes today’s resumption a 7 1/2 inning game that begins w/two completely different starting pitchers starting an already previously started game in the bottom of the 2nd & has both Nova & Fister actually serving as relief pitchers relieving somebody elses game.

              Last night’s game is over & done with. It ended in a rainout. Leave it there & start today’s game from scratch, completely fresh, w/both starters only responsible for what happens on the field today. A new day, a new & different game w/two new & different starters; simple. Resuming last night’s washout is just flat-out wrong. It gives the Yankees an obvious advantage that the game never intended a home team to have as a result of unplayable conditions from a previously started game.

              Had the same circumstances occurred last night but the Yankees were in the lead, I’d have felt the same way because — that’s baseball, the way it has always been & the way it should always be. Unfortunately, Bud Selig & MLB & their masters at FOX & TBS don’t agree. No matter what happens now, today’s game is a hyphenated rain-suspended/rain-resumed w/different pitchers on another day game, a game — & I might add a series — that’s been tampered w/unnecessarily. Why? What’s the necessity to screw around w/the process?

              If they knew rain was in the forecast for last night’s game & that forecast said rain all night when it arrives, they should have postponed it from the outset. Ok, I’ll let them slide & assume they didn’t know for sure. Now, though, to compound the washout by resuming play in the bottom of the 2nd unfairly infringes on the game Nova & Fister should be able to define by their own efforts in a regulation 9-inning game. The decision to resume last night’s game today in the bottom of the 2nd is flat-out wrong-headed, small, dumb, & disappointing.

      • Dave203

        IMO, that is the biggest overreaction to a suspended game I have ever seen. The rules clearly allow for suspended games, they are following the rules, therefore, IT IS BASEBALL. Throwing away two innings of 1 run ball is what would be unfair and ridiculous.

        • Carl LaFong

          Glad to hear it. If I overreacted, might as well be the biggest. IMO, you & yours have under-reacted though certainly not the biggest under-reaction.

  • Troy V.

    I know I missed the review on the Doug Fister trade back in July…Did the Yankees not go after Fister? Did they think the asking price was to high? Whats the deal on why the yankees didn’t get him…Did they not respect his pitching style? Couldn’t they have put Hughes in the pen and parted ways with Colon…

    • Greg

      I think the bad blood form last year’s aborted trade for Cliff Lee was the main reason we didn’t go after Fister. Also Fister is a contact pitcher, perfect for Comerica,and Safeco, bad for Yankee Stadium

      • FIPster Doofus

        That’s nonsense. Two of the Yankees’ playoff starters – Nova and Garcia – are contact pitchers, and Fister is better than both of them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/dougchu Doug

          Nova and Garcia are cheap? Fister is a free agent next year.

          • FIPster Doofus

            Fister’s not a free agent until 2016, and that isn’t relevant to my point anyway.

    • nsalem

      Colon was our second best pitcher at the end of July. Why would we have parted ways with him then?

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I never knew that the Yankees drafted Fister. If he is that good then why did Seattle trade him? Clearly the GM in Seattle has not been doing his homework. I am glad because otherwise we may have given up part of the future for Cliff Lee who never intended to sign with us. Thus, I thank him for that. Lee was using us to drive up the price on the Phillies.

    • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

      Best non-trade ever? Best non-trade ever.

  • Reg

    Last night I would’ve agrees with tyrion because I was so amped to watch the game. Now that I think of it we are in a great spot. This game is gonna come down to the bullpen when it’s all said and done. Considering the fact that the yanks have the strongest bullpen in the playoffs: I’ll take that any day.

  • Evan3457

    FWIW, Fister will have to pitch both of his games, if there is a 2nd game, at Yankee Stadium, and not at Safeco or Comerica. So his extremely low HR at home will not be an asset here.

    • Guest

      Great point.

    • Reg

      Again other than the white sox how many home run power threats are there in the central?

  • CMP

    I could be wrong but I think the Fister/Nova matchup favors Detroit more than the Verlander/CC matchup does therefore I think the rainout yesterday works out to the Tigers advantage.

  • BJ

    I think it should be noted that Fister’s 1.79 ERA since joining the Tigers might not be entirely representative of him as a pitcher. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s tremendously talented and we need to be wary, but let’s look at the matchups he had after being traded to Detroit: Two against Kansas City, one against Oakland, one against Baltimore, one against Oakland, one against Minnesota, one against Tampa, and four, count them, FOUR, against Cleveland. His only tough assignment as a Tiger was his first, when he threw against Texas and had zero strikeouts.

  • Matty Ice

    Fister? I barely knew her!

  • Joe D.

    Hi gang. I find myself surprised a few analysts are giving Detroit the edge in this series. Here is what my comment was to one of them (Jaffe @ BP). Let me know your thoughts, please.

    “You give the edge to Detroit in any length series…Call me Captain Optimistic, but even after reviewing your series preview, I just don’t see the clear edge on the Tigers’ side.

    The Yankees scored 210 more runs than their opponents this season, with nearly half their games coming against the quartet of Tampa (.562 WP), Boston (.556), Toronto (.500), and Baltimore (.426).

    The Tigers scored a far less impressive 76 runs more than their opponents this season, with nearly half their games coming against the quartet of Cleveland (.494), Chicago (.488), Kansas City (.438), and Minnesota (.389).

    The stark difference in schedules is underscored by the following: Detroit went 50-22 against their own division, but only 45-45 in the rest of their schedule.

    The Yankees were clearly a far more impressive team during the regular season, and I don’t consider it particularly close. There’s a 135-run difference in their run differentials there, and that’s including Detroit getting to spend half their year kicking four patsies around (and the Yanks getting unquestionably the toughest division in baseball.)

    I understand how a short playoff series changes the calculus, but for me, it doesn’t do so nearly enough to flip-flop the teams. It means little in such a sadly, ludicrously short series, but the Yankees are the better team. I forced to slap a percentage shot on it, I’d probably go with 65% Yanks / 35% Tigers.”

    • Joe D.

      I apologize if this is a bit off-topic. I thought this was the plain ol’ Game 2 thread. Didn’t realize it was specifically about Fister until I after I posted. Sorry.

      To tie it together a bit, I fully agree with a commenter above, who notes that Fister’s ridiculous numbers have come against a supremely weak schedule. He’s a nice pitcher, but his numbers with Detroit are skewed heavily thanks to an incredibly favorable schedule. (As are the stats for the entire team, IMHO.)

  • Kevin

    Fister has an ERA of over six facing the Yankees in his starts. Bad offense or not, that’s on him.