Tag:Doug Fister
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:14 pm
 

Tigers get a win -- and more injuries

DETROIT -- The Tigers are back in this series.

Now, can they stay healthy enough to have a chance to win it?

It was another wild night in the American League Championship Series on Tuesday, and at the end of it the Tigers had their first win. They trail the Rangers two games to one, with a chance to tie the series in Game 4 Wednesday, and with ace Justin Verlander returning for Game 5 Thursday.

Not only that, but Miguel Cabrera's bat looks healthier than it has in days, after a tie-breaking double in the fifth and a towering home run in the seventh.

Speaking of health . . .

Victor Martinez strained an oblique muscle while hitting a home run -- and stayed in the game. Delmon Young, who was off the roster and then back on with an oblique strain, was scratched from the original lineup when he was too sore to play.

Oh, and Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre could barely walk after fouling multiple pitches off his knee and lower leg -- and stayed in the game.

The Rangers depend on Beltre, but at least they have other healthier middle-of-the-order hitters.

With Brennan Boesch and Magglio Ordonez out for the year, with Young more questionable than ever and with Martinez suddenly questionable as well, the Tigers may not.

But they're back in this series, because of Cabrera, because Martinez and Jhonny Peralta also homered (the franchise's first three-homer postseason game since the 1984 World Series), and in large part because of starter Doug Fister, who allowed just two runs in 7 1/3 innings.

Fister is healthy. Cabrera is, too.

Are there enough healthy Tigers around them?
Posted on: October 6, 2011 11:41 pm
 

Deals pay off, and the Tigers are in the ALCS

NEW YORK -- The Tigers made two huge midseason acquisitions. The Yankees made none.

The Tigers are going to the American League Championship Series. The Yankees are not.

Doug Fister, brilliant for the Tigers after a July 30 trade with the Mariners, allowed one run in five innings in the decisive Game 5. Delmon Young, picked up in an Aug. 15 waiver deal with the Twins, hit the second of the Tigers' back-to-back first-inning home runs.

And the Tigers will go on to face the Rangers, beginning Saturday night in Texas.

The Yankees will go on to assess how it all went so wrong.

On the final night of their season, starter Ivan Nova went just two innings, with the Yankees announcing that he left the game with tightness in his right forearm. That forced manager Joe Girardi to piece together the most important game of the year with his bullpen, and with the Yankees already trailing 2-0.

The piecing-together actually worked well, although CC Sabathia (in the first relief appearance of his career) gave up an add-on run. Girardi was able to set it up with David Robertson ready to pitch the eighth and Mariano Rivera available for the ninth.

With questions about Nova's health, and with Girardi pushing Sabathia through 37 pitches on two days' rest, you had to wonder how the Yankees would be set up for the ALCS, even if they got there.

But they didn't.

The Tigers made the moves in July and August. Those moves paid off in October.
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 1, 2011 2:18 pm
 

On Fister, Dombrowski refused to accept 'no'

NEW YORK -- The first time Dave Dombrowski asked about Doug Fister, Jack Zduriencik said no, he's not available.

And the second time, and the third time, and . . .

How many times was it, Dave, a dozen?

"At least," Dombrowski said.

Twenty? Twenty-five?

"Probably," Dombrowski said. "Over a three-week period, we called a couple of times a day. Sometimes three times."

Zduriencik, the Mariners general manager, kept saying no. Dombrowski, the Tigers general manager, refused to take no for an answer.

"He opened the door at times, and then he would close it," Dombrowski said. "As long as it was open a little, we kept trying."

Eventually, on the day before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Tigers got Fister and David Pauley in exchange for four young players.

Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA, so you could say that Dombrowski's persistence is the reason the Tigers are in the playoffs. With Friday night's rain, Fister will in effect start two games in the Division Series against the Yankees, so you could say that he is the Tigers' best chance for advancing.

Fister will pick up for Justin Verlander when Game 1 resumes in the middle of the second inning Saturday night. If the series goes the five-game distance, Fister is now on schedule to start the deciding game.

And all because when Zduriencik said no, Dombrowski kept trying. And trying.

One Tigers person said he had never seen Dombrowski so determined to get a deal done. Dombrowski said he could only compare it to his pursuit of Mike Lowell in the summer and fall of 1995, when Lowell was with the Yankees and Dombrowski was running the Marlins.

"I worked on that one for six months," he said.

The Tigers identified Fister early, deciding that the combination of his ability and his contract status (he can't be a free agent until after 2015) made him the right fit. The Tigers looked at every pitcher who was or might be available (they made a try for James Shields, but Rays GM Andrew Friedman gave them a firmer "no" than Zduriencik did), but for most of the month, Fister was their top target.

In fact Tigers people insist, they preferred Fister to Ubaldo Jimenez, even if the price for the two had been the same (which it wasn't).

Their first offer for Fister, sources say, included none of the four players who were eventually in the deal (Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez and Chance Ruffin). No one can remember how many other permutations were offered before Zduriencik agreed.

What does seem certain is that the Tigers were the one team that wasn't scared off when Zduriencik said no. Plenty of teams needed pitching, but no one else tried nearly as hard for Fister.

In the end, the Tigers thought they gave up a lot. They view Martinez as a future star at third base, think Ruffin has a chance to pitch very well in the big leagues and view Wells as a potential starting outfielder.

"I guess I'm old school," Dombrowski said. "You don't try to 'win' a trade."

And, apparently, you don't take no for an answer.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 5:47 pm
 

Are Tigers better off playing the Yankees?

The Tigers wanted to finish ahead of the Rangers. They wanted home field in the first round.

They didn't get it. They'll open up on the road, at Yankee Stadium, against the Yankees.

And maybe that's for the best.

Several days back, before anything had been decided, one member of the Tiger organization told me he thought they might be better off starting the playoffs on the road. Here's why:

The Tigers, as everyone knows, have Justin Verlander. They have Doug Fister, whose September numbers were even better than Verlander's.

With Verlander and Fister in Games 1-2 at Yankee Stadium, the Tigers will go in fully believing they can win either game. Then they get Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello pitching at home at Comerica Park, where each would have a much better chance of winning than they would on the road.

And if there's a Game 5, it's back in Yankee Stadium, but the Tigers come back with Verlander, who is capable of winning anywhere.

Interesting thought, whether it works out or not.



Posted on: September 17, 2011 1:48 am
 

The Tigers found Fister, and now they're champs

Yeah, there were no impact pitchers available on the July trade market.

No one but Ubaldo Jimenez, and no one was sure that he was a real top of the rotation starter anymore.

No one but Ubaldo Jimenez -- and Doug Fister.

How did we miss him? How did everyone except the Tigers miss him?

"If you hit against him, you know him," Johnny Damon said the other day. "You see the ball. You just can't hit it."

What you see now is the Tigers spraying champagne -- the first major-league champagne celebration this year -- because Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and his staff identified Fister and went and traded for him.

Justin Verlander is the Tigers' MVP, and he may well be the MVP of the entire American League. Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers' best player, and Victor Martinez may be the most important offseason addition any AL team made last winter.

But just as the Kirk Gibson/Alan Trammell Tigers needed to add Doyle Alexander to win a division title in 1987, the Verlander/Cabrera Tigers needed Fister to win it 24 years later.

Between Doyle and Doug, the Tigers made one trip to the World Series (in 2006), but they never won a division.

Friday, Fister retired 17 in a row at one point. He pitched eight innings and allowed just one run. He improved to 6-1 in nine starts as a Tiger, and he lowered his Tiger ERA to 2.12.

You know the only guy in the last 38 years to make that many starts in a Tiger season with a lower ERA than Fister's 2.12?

Yeah, that would be Doyle Alexander, with a 1.53 ERA in his 11 starts in 2007.

Doyle's Tigers needed an incredible final week, to win the division on the final day. They were spent by the time they got to the playoffs, and lost to the Twins.

Fister's Tigers became the first team to clinch a division (the Phillies clinched a playoff spot earlier this week, but they're waiting to clinch their division before celebrating).

The Tigers have two weeks to get ready for the playoffs, two weeks to line up their rotation.

They'd love to win a few games in those two weeks. They want to stay ahead of the Rangers (who they now lead by two games), so that they'll open at home against the wild-card team (likely the Red Sox). They wouldn't mind winning enough games to pass the Yankees for the best record in the league (they're now three games behind), which would give them home field in a possible American League Championship Series matchup.

"Right now, they look like they could be the scariest team," said Damon, who played for the Tigers last year and plays for the Rays now.

A month ago, baseball people saw the Tigers as a dangerous playoff opponent, simply because of Verlander. Now, scouts watching the American League say they might be the league's best team, because of Verlander, Cabrera and Martinez -- and because of Fister.

They say Cabrera is playing harder -- and running harder -- than he ever has. They say Martinez may get more big hits than even Cabrera.

And they say Fister is the type of starter everyone was looking for in July. The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Indians, the Rangers . . . everyone, probably, except for the Phillies.

The Tigers were the ones who found him languishing with the Mariners. The Tigers were the ones who traded for him.

Now the Tigers are the ones celebrating. They're the first ones celebrating.

And now, the question is whether they'll also be the last ones celebrating.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 1:58 am
 

3 to Watch: The Beckett edition

BOSTON -- If Josh Beckett loses Friday night, maybe the Red Sox don't get to the playoffs.

But if Josh Beckett doesn't look healthy Friday night, maybe it doesn't matter whether the Red Sox get to the playoffs.

Not to put too much on Beckett, but there might not be a more important player in baseball to watch this weekend. At this point, there's no way there's a more important player on the Red Sox.

The Sox already have a wounded starting rotation, with Daisuke Matsuzaka out for the year, Clay Buchholz still not certain to return (and unlikely to start), and John Lackey owning the worst ERA in the big leagues (6.19) for anyone allowed to make 16 or more starts.

Lackey is still Boston's third starter, and the Red Sox really don't have a fourth or fifth starter. They may be in trouble in October (if they get there), anyway.

But with a healthy Beckett to team with Jon Lester atop the rotation, and a lineup that can still be very dangerous, they'd have a chance.

There's a reason the Red Sox are 19-8 in games Beckett has started this year. There's a reason that Beckett is the one Boston starter that the Rays worry about (they have no runs and two hits in 17 innings against him this year).

There's a reason I wrote, barely two weeks ago, that Beckett was the biggest difference between the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Just six days after I wrote that, Beckett sprained his right ankle in a Sept. 5 start in Toronto. He hasn't pitched since.

The Red Sox say he's healthy now. They say he should be fine, and under no real limitations, for Friday's start against the Rays.

The Red Sox also have a habit of not always being entirely truthful about injuries.

Is Beckett healthy? For Boston's sake, he'd better be.

Without him, they don't stand much chance in October. Without him, they may not even need to worry about October.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. No matter how good or how healthy Beckett is, there's no guarantee he wins, in Rays at Red Sox, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. That's because James Shields is pitching for the Rays, and Shields has two (of his 11) complete games, and one (of his four) shutouts against Boston. Shields hasn't lost to anyone since Aug. 16, when he gave up just three runs on three hits in a complete-game 3-1 loss to Lester at Fenway. As Shields pointed out Thursday, his six final regular-season starts will be Texas, Texas, Boston, Boston, New York, New York. He's halfway through that tough six-game stretch, and so far he's 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA.  The 29-year-old Shields is the oldest of the Rays' starters. In fact, if he's still around next year (they could trade him), Shields would be the guy who ends Tampa Bay's major-league record streak of consecutive starts by pitchers under 30 (currently at 751 games).

2. The first team to clinch a playoff spot was the Phillies, who did it earlier this week. But they didn't celebrate, waiting to clinch the division first. So the first team to spray champagne could be the Phillies, whose magic number is two going into Cardinals at Phillies, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park (they'd also need a Braves loss to the Mets); or the Tigers, whose magic number is one going into Tigers at A's, Friday night (10:07 ET) at the Coliseum (they could also clinch with an Indians loss in Minnesota). The Phillies starter is Vance Worley, who might not make the playoff rotation but would be second or third for the Yankees or Red Sox. The Tigers starter is Doug Fister, who the Yankees and Red Sox probably should have tried harder to trade for in July.

3. Like the Rays, the Angels aren't done yet. They're 3 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the American League West, and four games back of the Red Sox in the wild card. Unlike the Rays, the Angels don't have five dependable starters. That's why the Angels will bring ace Jered Weaver back on three days' rest to start in Angels at Orioles, Sunday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Camden Yards. By starting Weaver on short rest now, the Angels will be able to start him on normal rest in their final series of the season, against the Rangers.


Posted on: July 31, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 5:26 pm
 

3 to Watch: The rich don't get richer edition

The Yankees always get what they want, right?

The Yankees and Red Sox get everything. The rich get richer.

Except when they don't.

In a week where the Nationals briefly acted as buyers (sending minor leaguers to the Reds for bench player Jonny Gomes), and where the Indians and the Pirates were both buyers, the Yankees were . . . silent?

And the Red Sox were . . . not silent, but they didn't really get what they wanted.

That's not to say that the Yankees are in trouble, or that the Red Sox are. That's not to say that the Yankees have suddenly become cheap, or that the Red Sox have, either.

Just don't say they always get what they want, or even what they need.

The Red Sox came closer, with their deadline-beating three-team deal for Erik Bedard. Bedard was awful in his Friday night showcase, but he was very good earlier in the season.

But with Monday's news about Clay Buchholz -- CSN New England reported that he has a stress fracture in his back, and could be out for the year -- the Sox were more determined to add a starter than the Yankees were. In fact, CSNNE's Sean McAdam wrote, the Sox actually wanted to add two starters, and settled for one possibly healthy one (Bedard).

The Yankees were much more content to stick with what they have. But should they have been.

The Red Sox are at least solid atop their rotation, with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. The Yankees can rely on CC Sabathia.

And . . .

That's it, really. The Yankees can rely on CC Sabathia.

They don't have a true No. 2. They have Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon as amazing surprises. They have A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes as amazing enigmas. They have Ivan Nova and perhaps Manuel Banuelos as talented but really untested kids.

But who starts Game 2?

Now you understand why Cliff Lee's decision to sign with the Phillies last December was so potentially devastating to the Yankees.

They were left taking a chance that a top starter would be available on the July market. They were left trying to decide if Ubaldo Jimenez or Hiroki Kuroda (who, in the end, refused to consider any trade) would fit.

"If those are the two guys, I would live with what I have," one rival scout said in the middle of last week. "And then hope that A.J. pitches better, which he probably won't."

Did the Yankees go wrong at the deadline? Only if they don't win.

Check back at the end of September, or sometime in October.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Sabathia pitched like a true ace in July (with a 0.92 ERA in five starts). Now that they passed up on trading for help, they sure as heck need him to pitch like an ace the rest of the way, starting in Yankees at White Sox, Monday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox have every bit as big a need for Jake Peavy to pitch well, and more than that for him to stay healthy. The White Sox traded away Edwin Jackson, which gave them bullpen help (in Jason Frasor) and some payroll relief, but it left them with little rotation protection, in case the fragile Peavy gets hurt again.

2. The Tigers' acquisition of Doug Fister understandably got far less attention than the Indians' trade for Jimenez. But Fister serves almost as important a role for the Tigers as Jimenez does for the Indians. The Tigers are 4-16 when they've used a fifth starter, which means that even if Fister is decent, starting in Rangers at Tigers, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park, he'll be a huge improvement. The Rangers explored adding a starter, too, but settled for making significant bullpen upgrades with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara.

3. The Indians announced Monday that Jimenez won't make his Cleveland debut until Friday in Texas. But Bedard will make his Boston debut a night earlier, in Indians at Red Sox, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. That series, between one of the American League's true powers and a team that wants to be thought of the same way, sure became a lot more interesting with what the Indians did Saturday night. By Thursday, the Red Sox should know for sure about Buchholz, and maybe Thursday's game will give them some idea whether Bedard will really help.




Posted on: July 30, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: July 30, 2011 1:57 pm
 

Tigers call up Turner, trade for Fister

The Tigers have found their starter. And a reliever.

In a bold move that addressed both their main needs at once, the Tigers acquired starter Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley from the Mariners, for a four-player package that is headed by Double-A third baseman Francisco Martinez and also includes pitcher Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells and a player to be named later.

Fister should solidify a Tiger rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Brad Penny. The Tigers called up 20-year-old super-prospect Jacob Turner to make a spot start Saturday against the Angels, but they said Turner would return to the minor leagues immediately after the game. Fister will make his first Tiger start next Wednesday against the Rangers.

The Tigers were reluctant to trade Turner, and even more reluctant to pay the price that the Rockies were putting on Ubaldo Jimenez (thought to be at least Turner and Porcello, with outfielder Brennan Boesch also mentioned). With Rays starter James Shields unavailable (at least to them), they settled on Fister as the next best option.

Upgrading the rotation was a huge priority, because the Tigers are 19 games over .500 when using one of their top three starters (Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello), but just 4-16 (and 0-7 since mid-June) when they have used a fifth starter.

Adding to the bullpen also became a priority lately, because of concerns about how well middle reliever Al Alburquerque would hold up. So the Tigers, who were already talking to the Mariners about Fister, expanded the deal to include Pauley.

Seattle had at first expressed a reluctance to trade Fister, but the Mariners relented. Wells, who spent part of this year in the big leagues, could help their woeful offense immediately. And Martinez, a 20-year-old in Double-A, gives them a potential big bat for the future.

The Tigers were willing to include Martinez because they have depth at third base, in 19-year-old Nick Castellanos, currently at Class A West Michigan.

Wells has hit .286 in 100 career big-league games. Martinez is hitting .282 with 46 RBI at Double-A Erie. Furbush, who has a 3.62 ERA in 17 big-league games this year, should also help the Mariners.

Turner, who has been pitching at Double-A Erie (and was scheduled to start for the SeaWolves Saturday night), is expected to return to the minor leagues after making his big-league debut.

The 27-year-old Fister is just 3-12 in 21 starts this year for the Mariners, but that has more to do with Seattle's woeful offense. His ERA is 3.33, and his 1.17 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is less than that of Tim Lincecum, C.J. Wilson, Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester, among others.

The Tigers scouted each of Fister's last two starts, including when he allowed just three runs in seven innings in a 4-1 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night. In Fister's five starts this month, the Mariners have scored just three runs total while he was in the game.

Fister makes just $436,500, and came into this season with just over one year of major-league service time, so he won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.

The 28-year-old Pauley has a 2.15 ERA in 39 appearances for the Mariners this year.






 
 
 
 
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