Transaction Grade: Doug Fister Joins The Texas Rotation, But Should We Care?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Contract
One year contract with $3.5 million guaranteed (plus incentives)

 

The Player
While the class of free agent starters is not a glamorous one, it’s easy to say that there were bigger names than Doug Fister available.  However he was the first “domino” to fall, signing with the Texas Rangers where he should get an opportunity to join the team’s rotation.  How much should we care, though?

Never a source of strikeouts, Fister posted an 8.27 K/9 over 90.1 IP with the Red Sox last season.  He did see an uptick in velocity, averaging 90.05 mph on his sinker (the only other time he averaged at least 90 mph on the pitch was in 2011, at 90.67).  He still generated a pedestrian 7.6% SwStr%, which doesn’t justify the increase (6.17 K/9 for his career).

While he’s shown control in the past, that’s wavered in recent seasons with BB/9 of 3.09 and 3.79.  He also has a decent groundball rate (50.6% in ’17), but he’s staying in the AL and a favorable hitter’s ballpark (maybe part of it was the pitching staff, but Texas pitchers allowed the sixth most home runs at home last season).  Throw in a HR/9 of 1.22 and 1.20 in 2015 and 2016, and it’s obviously a concern.

Maybe if we believed in the strikeout rate we could see him as a buying opportunity, but it just doesn’t come together.

Quick Skills Review

  • Unsustainable strikeout rate
  • Regressed control
  • Potential home run issues (despite groundball rate), especially given his new home ballpark

 

The Grade – D
This signing screams of a team desperate for starting pitching.  It’s not a lot of money, so we won’t give it an F, but it’s hard to imagine Fister making much of an impact in ’18.  He signed a minor league contract a year ago and only landed in Boston after he opted out of his contract with the Los Angeles Angels when he didn’t reach the Majors.  While he may start in the rotation, don’t expect him to finish the year there.  There’s simply too much risk, given his skill set, to expect much in the way of results.

 

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections:

Player
Date Published
Cano, Robinson10/09/17
Castillo, Luis10/03/17
Gerrit Cole10/30/17
Didi Gregorius11/20/17
Wil Myers10/24/17
Quintana, Jose11/13/17
Sanchez, Aaron12/05/17
Schoop, Jonathan11/27/17
Stroman, Marcus10/16/17
Walker, Taijuan 11/06/17

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