Detroit Tigers: 5 Early Signs That 2011 Was Not a Fluke for Doug Fister
Even though the Tigers' early struggles have been well documented throughout the past month, there are still signs of life from various points of this truly deep roster.
One of those bright spots is Doug Fister.
After boasting an 8-1 record, as well as a 1.79 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, expectations were high coming into the 2012 season for Fister.
While no one expected Fister to perform as well as he did after the trade that undoubtedly helped send Detroit deep into the postseason, he has performed exceedingly well thus far.
He has yet to disappoint, and all signs point to another great year from one of the Tigers' biggest pitching acquisitions in recent memory.
Here are five reasons why Fister's stellar 2011 performance was not a fluke.
Making Pitches Count
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Once again, when Fister gets ahead in the count, he simply imposes his will on opposing hitters.
With two strikes, opposing hitters are hitting an abysmal .167, which is based upon a total of 34 at-bats this season.
Because of his ability to place the ball anywhere on or around the plate, Fister is able to play games with the batter and keep them guessing throughout a game. Hitters have to be ready for absolutely anything because of his amazing control.
There is no doubt that his 22 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitches will continue to improve as this season progresses.
As he continues to regain his 2011 form after an injury shortened his first start of 2012, Doug Fister will continue to show off his incredible accuracy each and every night.
Controlling the Power of the Batting Order
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While it has only been five games, Fister is controlling the usually dominant part of the batting order, which includes the hitters from the No. 3 to the No. 5 spot in the opposing lineup.
With a total of 38 at-bats this season, opposing teams' 3-5 hitters are swinging the lumber for a combined batting average of .215.
Also, nine of his 22 strikeouts this season have come from these spots in the lineup.
Fister has absolutely dominated the No. 5 slot in the opposing team's lineup, and the numbers thus far are nothing short of impressive: .143 batting average, five strikeouts, zero walks and one extra-base hit.
It may be difficult for Fister to continue this dominance as the season progresses since he has not seen the best hitters the league as to offer just yet. However, if he is able to stay close to these results with each and every start, he will continually give the Tigers a chance to win.
Dominant with RISP
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When opposing teams have runners in scoring position, Fister stays as calm as always. No base runner on second or third base is guaranteed anything when he is on the hill.
So far during 2012, opposing teams are hitting 3-for-25, which is an incredibly bad .120 batting average. When runners are in scoring position with two outs, Fister has controlled the plate, as hitters are 1-for-13.
If he is able to continue this impressive run, Detroit has an immediate advantage each and every time he takes the mound.
Improves as Game Progresses
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Everyone knows that Justin Verlander becomes more and more incredible as the game progresses. His ability to throw in the high 90s late into games is well documented.
However, even though Fister is missing the velocity, he also improves as the game moves into the late innings.
From pitches 1-15, Fister has been getting roughed up, as he is allowing a .346 batting average. However, for every 15 pitches he throws, the opposing team's batting average decreases in a big way.
Once Fister reaches pitch No. 46, he has become a force on the mound. From pitches 46-75, Fister is allowing a mere .148 batting average.
This may be the most telling statistic that shows how dominant and impressive Fister can be during the 2012 season. While some of the other statistics will fluctuate throughout the season, his ability to improve late into games will be a common consistency for the Tigers.
Only Needs Run Support
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Fister has shown that he has all the tools necessary to repeat an amazing 2011 performance, and his current line is impressive so far: 1.84 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 29.1 innings pitched.
One thing he cannot afford, however, is the Tigers lack of ability to score runs when they are given prime opportunities.
There is no question that Fister can hold opposing teams to three runs or fewer each and every time he takes the hill, but if the team that was apparently destined to win the AL Central cannot score runs, he will feel like he is right back in Seattle once again.
There is little doubt among Tiger fans that this team will start hitting like many across the nation assumed they would. Their inability to string wins together will fade, and the Tigers will become a dominant force in American League.
As of now, it is obvious that Doug Fister will be a large part of the present and future success of this 2012 Detroit Tigers team. Look for Fister to start getting the run support he has been desperately lacking, and maybe even push himself into All-Star contention.