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Previewing the Tigers: Doug Fister looks to impress

A full season of Doug Fister in Detroit? Yes please.
A full season of Doug Fister in Detroit? Yes please.

We're continuing our previewing of the Detroit Tigers player by player. Expect much of the bullpen and the bench players to be doubled up a bit during the final week before the season, but we'll goone a day until then, by uniform numbers. I reserve the right to go out of order either on purpose or by accident.

Doug Fister #58
SP #3

What Doug Fister did after being traded to the Tigers is nothing short of phenomenal. In 70 1/3 innings, he had an ERA of just 1.79 and WHIP of 0.839. His control was an amazing 0.6 walks per nine innings, while he had a career-high strikeouts of 7.3 per nine innings. Even those of us who were excited for the trade could never have seen that coming.

So, expectations for Mr. Fister might be a little higher this year by Tigers fans. The 6-foot-8 right-hander continues to be a player that you have to be excited to have on the team for years to come, we should remember to keep things in perspective. He's probably not a hidden ace pitcher that the Mariners blundered into trading. But maybe he actually is better than we think.

Since his debut in 2009, there have been steady changes in Fister's game. The key changes in 2011 were in the mixture of pitches Fister throws, and the velocity at which he throws them. The end result is that batters have swung at more pitches -- both inside and especially outside the zone -- and made less (and obviously, worse) contact.

Given his career history, Fister looks like he'll keep his strikeout gains -- maybe not to the degree in Detroit, but likely between his 2011 figure of 6.07 and his 7.3 in Detroit -- while continuing not to give out many free passes. He gets a fair amount of outs on the ground (45%) so there is some fear Detroit's less-than-stellar infield may let a few balls slip through and put a damper on his potential numbes.

But you still have to feel good about him. He very well could pitch like a #2 in Detroit -- and serves to give batters a different look if slotted between Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in the rotation. I'll predict an ERA of around 3.50 and however many wins the Tigers' batters are able to capture for him.