The Rangers added depth to their starting rotation as they signed veteran Doug Fister. Is there any value to be had in 2018?
The Texas Rangers needed help in the starting rotation department for years. After the team traded away Yu Darvish, that need grew even more. While it may not be looked at as a major signing, the Rangers signed veteran Doug Fister. Does he have fantasy value in 2018?
After struggling with the Houston Astros is 2016, Fister did not sign a contract last offseason. He signed a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Angels but never made it up to the majors. The Boston Red Sox signed him off waivers for the second half of the season.
In 18 games, 15 starts, Fister posted a 4.88 ERA, 1.384 WHIP and 5-9 record. He posted a career-high 8.3 K/9 with a 3.8 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9. While the sample size is smaller than usual, it’s good to see that he can still strike out batters at a decent rate.
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Fister induced opposing batters to hit ground balls 50.6 percent of the time and fly balls at 28.9 percent. His soft, medium and hard hit rates were almost identical between his 2016 and 2017 numbers.
Fister’s fastball topped out at the low 90s last season, but he did post a 7.6 swinging strike rate, his highest since 2013. He allowed an 81.6 contact rate, 36th among starting pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched. However, he recorded a strike on the first pitch 60 percent of at-bats.
The skills aren’t what they used to be, 69.7 fastball usage in 2015, the fact that he is still missing bats and striking out hitters is a sign that he could have a bounce-back season in 2018.
Pitching in the American League West is a good division for Fister to rebound, too. Two teams rank in the top 11 in batting average while the other two are in the bottom seven. The split was also 50-50 in terms of home runs hit.
As of now, the Rangers rotation will likely be Fister, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, A.J. Griffin and Nick Martinez. The first three are locks to earn a rotation spot but the Rangers could look to add more depth, boucning Griffin or Martinez from the rotation. As a No. 2 starting pitcher, barring health, he should make close to 30 starts.
Fister doesn’t crack my top-60 starting pitchers, despite having a guaranteed spot in the rotation. The strikeouts look nice but the ratio stats are trending in the wrong direction. In AL-only leagues, I’d use him as a SP5 or spot starter. He should go undrafted in standard leagues, though. I think the situation fits him but there are plenty of other young starters to draft over the 34-year-old.