Houston Astros: Is Doug Fister an Option for the Rotation?

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Is Doug Fister an Option for the Rotation?

Sep 14, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (33) throws a pitch during the eleventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals defeated the Phillies, 8-7 in 11 innings. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did free agency begin at 10:59 PM on Friday, it was the deadline to extend qualifying offers to a team’s own free agents. But not all players were afforded the same opportunity. That is the case with veteran starting pitcher Doug Fister, who was most recently with the Washington Nationals in 2015.

Would adding the right-hander make sense for the Houston Astros? Yes, since he now doesn’t cost the Astros a draft pick and the team may need another veteran presence if Scott Kazmir isn’t retained for 2016. And it makes more sense considering that the Astros are unlikely to go after any of the consensus top starting pitchers on the open market such as Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, or Jordan Zimmermann.

Why Sign Fister?

Fister, in theory, would be another proven starter in Houston’s rotation, along with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, and Mike Fiers. His addition would solidify what is arguably the Astros greatest strength, especially if he can recapture anything similar to his 2014 form where he went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA and 3.93 FIP in 25 starts. Of course Fister struggled in 2015, going 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA and 4.55 FIP.

But even amid his 2015 struggles, the fact remains that he could be a reasonable bargain for a fourth or fifth starter in a deep rotation. While his peripheral stats enforce the fact that he often struggled in 2015 (4.47 SIERA), historically Fister has been a better pitcher (3.62 average SIERA from 2012-14). His .310 BABIP seems to indicate that bad luck may have been in play more often than not. The odds are that Fister is being viewed as one of the best buy-low candidates in this year’s free agent class.

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Not to mention that he may be a decent fit at Minute Maid Park when taking his ground ball percentages into consideration. Before last season Fister historically had at least a 48.9 GB% since 2012. Don’t forget that the Astros did rank 5th in total team GB%, 47.3%, behind only the Pirates, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Rockies. Ground ball percentage seems to be one of the statistics that the Astros highly value when constructing their pitching staff. Plus let Fister work with Astros pitching coach Brent Strom then good things are bound to happen.

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