How will Houston Astros’ Doug Fister fair this upcoming season? Let’s Project!
Looking back at the Houston Astros’ offseason, there were only two major events in terms of player acquisition. The massive Ken Giles trade with the Phillies and the Doug Fister signing in late January were the only two moves that Jeff Luhnow was able to follow through on and complete before Spring Training began.
Fister, a free-agent signing, was believed to be a nice bargain deal for the Astros if he could return to his 2014 form. The Astros signed Fister to a 1-year deal worth $7 million with incentives that could increase the total to $12 million. So, it seems that Fister will have 5 million very good reasons to have a productive 2016 in an Astros uniform.
Right now, Fister is projected to be the fourth pitcher in the Astros rotation, behind Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, and Lance McCullers. There will definitely be a spring training battle between Scott Feldman, Fister, and Mike Fiers for the last two spots in the rotation this season.
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To earn that spot, Fister will have to put the rough 2015 season that he had with the Washington Nationals behind him. Last season, Fister struggled with injury problems throughout the season, so even when he was healthy enough to pitch he was not very effective. He posted a 4.19 ERA in 15 games started with only 63 strikeouts and a 1.398 WHIP, the highest in his career.
Fister must put behind him a season in which he was even demoted to the Nationals’ bullpen. That was a long way down from the clutch postseason pitcher that he was for the Detroit Tigers in their deep postseason runs. There’s no doubt that the ability is there, but Fister must harness that ability to start for the Astros.
With that in mind, here are my projections for Fister:
Win/Loss Record: 12-9
Overall, I have a lot of confidence in Fister to rebound completely from the anomaly that was his 2015 season. There were health concerns from other clubs during this past offseason, but if he can prove those worries to be false, there should be nothing else to stop him. He has pitched for many years in the American League and essentially seen everything there is to see in the league.
While I definitely do not expect Fister to return all the way back to his 2014 or 2013 form, he should definitely make strides in the direction. I expect that his ERA will never climb over 4.00 and that he should be able to win a relatively high number of games with a powerful Astros offense protecting him.
By the way, I believe that there’s no way Fister will receive a demotion to the Astros’ bullpen. He came to Houston to be a starting pitcher and if he pitches well, which is my expectation that he will be a steady arm at the back of the Astros 2016 rotation.