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Astros: With So Much on the Line, Should Fister Start?

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Sep 18, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) sits in the dugout after being relieved from the game against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) sits in the dugout after being relieved from the game against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Astros fans do not want to see Fister on the mound, but he will be there tonight.

With nine games left in the season, the Houston Astros cannot afford to lose too many games. If the goal is 89 wins, the Astros will have to win eight of the last nine games. With six of those games played in front of the Houston crowd, they could have the hometown advantage. Lance McCullers is working his way back, and Dallas Keuchel has been ruled out for the season. The starting rotation has taken a hit recently.

The Astros currently sit one game out of the playoffs via the wild card. The loss last night versus the last place Angels hurt, but Houston still

has a chance with nine games to go. They cannot afford to lose too many more games at this point of the year. Enter Doug Fister, tonight’s starter versus the Angel to try to break the one game losing streak.

Fister was the answer this offseason for the rotation, and he responded to the bell with an 8-6 record with a 3.55 ERA in the first half. Most Astros fans dubbed him the ace of the Astros with Keuchel’s struggles and McCullers got off to a late start. When the team got off to a cold start, Fister was the bright spot on the team.

In 106 1/3 innings in the first half, Fister had 66 strikeouts while allowing 15 homers. There was a time where some considered him the possible wild card game pitcher. Times have changed, in the second half, he has struggled and has looked tired on the mound. In the second half, Fister is 4-6 with a 5.85 ERA in 13 starts.

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His overall season stats are not terrible. He is 12-12 with a 4.45 ERA on the season. However, he has not been reliable recently. Fister has failed to go five innings in the past seven games five times. He has given up 25 runs in those seven games, including one seven innings shutout performance. With a small margin of error, should Fister actually be starting tonight’s game?

First of all, it is highly unlikely that A.J. Hinch would not start Fister tonight. However, you have to imagine that it has been discussed a few times. The Astros have some extra options right now, but they may not be too much better. David Paulino and Brady Rodgers could take the mound in his place. Rodgers has not gotten off to the best start, but he has always been a starting pitcher.

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While Fister could benefit from being skipped in the rotation, the Astros are counting on him and his veteran leadership. Team management decided to stick to their guns at the trade deadline. Part of the Houston rotation arsenal has been Fister, why change things now? In conclusion, Fister will throw the first pitch tonight. Let’s hope that Fister pitches a great game tonight. Go Astros.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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