I wrote an article not long ago previewing the Tigers' potential playoff opponents, should they make the playoffs themselves. In that article, I wrote that I assumed Rick Porcello would take the reins as Detroit's No. 3 starter when the playoffs roll around.
Doug Fister is changing my mind.
After rolling over the Cleveland Indians to the tune of 13 strikeouts, four hits and two runs on Monday afternoon, Fister has shown that he has a very strong argument to surpass Porcello on the depth chart.
If Fister can maintain that level of effectiveness in a playoff series where opponents are already having to face Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer more than once, I like the Tigers' chances against any team.
All Detroit really needs from Fister is consistency. Outside of Verlander, no other Tigers starter has been consistent this season for longer than three or four starts. Since coming over from the Mariners, Fister has gone 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He has pitched at least seven full innings in each of his last four starts and didn't give up more than one earned run in any of them.
Porcello is important to Detroit's chances in the postseason as well, but he's far more prone to throwing a stinker of a game. When he's on, he's amazing. But when it goes downhill, it can get ugly.
I feel much more comforted as a Tigers fan with the thought of having a guy on the mound that I know will give consistently give me seven innings every time out and give the team a chance to win. I'll take the safe bet over the risk/reward option in the playoffs.
Fister doesn't have to have dominant performances for the Tigers to win in the playoffs, but he's beginning to look like he just might have them anyway.