Monday, September 05, 2011

Fister Punches Out Indians, Tigers Win 4-2

You know I've been waiting to use that corny headline for a while, but today it's appropriate.  Doug Fister is not known for strikeouts - just 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings coming into today - but this afternoon he punched out a career high 13 batters.  Fister always has good control and generally keeps the ball down, but today he appeared to have a little extra movement on all his pitches.

The six-foot-eight Fister was almost un-hittable allowing just two runs on four hits and one walk in eight innings.  One of the runs was unearned due to his own throwing error.  The other came on a home run by Indians right fielder Kosuke Fukodome in the eighth inning.  Fister now has an outstanding 2.64 ERA and 36/3 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings as a Tiger.

Fryman - Alexander - Fister

Fister may be the best in-season pitching addition to the Tigers since Doyle Alexander in 1987.  Alexander was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on August 12 of that year for young fire baller John Smoltz.  Alexander proceeded to go 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch and helped the Tigers win the division title on the final weekend of the season.

One can question whether the trade was worth it.  On one hand, it gave us the best Tigers pennant race of my lifetime and they would not have won it without him.  On the other hand, Smoltz went on to have a tremendous career with the Braves.  From a WAR perspective, it was a horrible trade.  However, my question is how good would Smoltz have been and how many division titles would the dismal Tigers of that period won with him?  My guess is not many if any.  I've always considered it a good trade for the Tigers on that basis.

Another late season acquisition was Woodie Fryman, who was acquired of the waiver wire from the Phillies in August, 1972.  After an undistinguished career with the Phillies, the southpaw went 10-3 with a 2.06 ERA in 16 games for the Tigers.  He helped the Tigers beat the Red Sox by a half game in the strike-shortened 1972 season.

Fister may be following in the footsteps of Alexander and Fryman this season, but the difference is that he's not a one-year fix.  At just 27 years old, he is expected to be a fixture in the Tigers rotation for the next few years.

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