Tag:Doyle Alexander
Posted on: September 17, 2011 1:48 am

The Tigers found Fister, and now they're champs

Yeah, there were no impact pitchers available on the July trade market.

No one but Ubaldo Jimenez, and no one was sure that he was a real top of the rotation starter anymore.

No one but Ubaldo Jimenez -- and Doug Fister.

How did we miss him? How did everyone except the Tigers miss him?

"If you hit against him, you know him," Johnny Damon said the other day. "You see the ball. You just can't hit it."

What you see now is the Tigers spraying champagne -- the first major-league champagne celebration this year -- because Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and his staff identified Fister and went and traded for him.

Justin Verlander is the Tigers' MVP, and he may well be the MVP of the entire American League. Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers' best player, and Victor Martinez may be the most important offseason addition any AL team made last winter.

But just as the Kirk Gibson/Alan Trammell Tigers needed to add Doyle Alexander to win a division title in 1987, the Verlander/Cabrera Tigers needed Fister to win it 24 years later.

Between Doyle and Doug, the Tigers made one trip to the World Series (in 2006), but they never won a division.

Friday, Fister retired 17 in a row at one point. He pitched eight innings and allowed just one run. He improved to 6-1 in nine starts as a Tiger, and he lowered his Tiger ERA to 2.12.

You know the only guy in the last 38 years to make that many starts in a Tiger season with a lower ERA than Fister's 2.12?

Yeah, that would be Doyle Alexander, with a 1.53 ERA in his 11 starts in 2007.

Doyle's Tigers needed an incredible final week, to win the division on the final day. They were spent by the time they got to the playoffs, and lost to the Twins.

Fister's Tigers became the first team to clinch a division (the Phillies clinched a playoff spot earlier this week, but they're waiting to clinch their division before celebrating).

The Tigers have two weeks to get ready for the playoffs, two weeks to line up their rotation.

They'd love to win a few games in those two weeks. They want to stay ahead of the Rangers (who they now lead by two games), so that they'll open at home against the wild-card team (likely the Red Sox). They wouldn't mind winning enough games to pass the Yankees for the best record in the league (they're now three games behind), which would give them home field in a possible American League Championship Series matchup.

"Right now, they look like they could be the scariest team," said Damon, who played for the Tigers last year and plays for the Rays now.

A month ago, baseball people saw the Tigers as a dangerous playoff opponent, simply because of Verlander. Now, scouts watching the American League say they might be the league's best team, because of Verlander, Cabrera and Martinez -- and because of Fister.

They say Cabrera is playing harder -- and running harder -- than he ever has. They say Martinez may get more big hits than even Cabrera.

And they say Fister is the type of starter everyone was looking for in July. The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Indians, the Rangers . . . everyone, probably, except for the Phillies.

The Tigers were the ones who found him languishing with the Mariners. The Tigers were the ones who traded for him.

Now the Tigers are the ones celebrating. They're the first ones celebrating.

And now, the question is whether they'll also be the last ones celebrating.
Posted on: August 1, 2010 9:23 pm

3 to watch: The Instant rewards? edition

Cliff Lee lost his first start for the Rangers. Dan Haren not only lost his Angels debut, but he was knocked out of the box by a line drive.

Roy Oswalt lost his first Phillies start.

Yeah, it's great to trade for a starting pitcher, isn't it?

You make the deal with hopes that it will go the way it did for Lee last year, when he won his first five starts for the Phillies, then took them all the way to the World Series. You remember that CC Sabathia went 11-2 down the stretch with the 2008 Brewers, and changed the story of a franchise by taking them to the playoffs.

You remember Doyle Alexander (9-0) with the 1987 Tigers. You don't remember Jarrod Washburn (1-3) with the 2009 Tigers.

A starting pitcher traded at midseason doesn't get that many chances to affect the pennant race. Lee made just 12 regular-season starts for the Phillies last year; even Sabathia, who was dealt before the All-Star break and famously pitched on three days' rest down the stretch in September, started only 17 regular-season games for the Brewers.

The best deals make a difference, but with so few starts, each one is precious.

Oswalt makes his second Phils start this Wednesday in Florida. Haren makes his third Angels start Wednesday in Baltimore. Lee, who lost to the Angels in Anaheim on Sunday, will face the A's this weekend in Oakland.

Meanwhile, three other teams show off new starters this week, as you'll see in 3 to watch:

1. The Cardinals no doubt would have rather had Oswalt, but the guy they got was Jake Westbrook, who has come back well from Tommy John surgery. Westbrook's first start will come in Astros at Cardinals, Monday night (8:15 ET) at Busch Stadium . Westbrook is a career American Leaguer. He was 6-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 27 interleague games against National League teams. His opponent Monday is Brett Myers, the guy a lot of teams would have liked to have traded for; the Astros instead signed him to a contract extension.

2. The Dodgers were seven games out of first place at the deadline, and 4 1/2 games behind in the wild-card race. But the Dodgers obviously still believe they can win, as they picked up four players in the last week, including starter Ted Lilly, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. Lilly gets a tough assignment in his debut with his new team, facing Mat Latos in Padres at Dodgers, Tuesday night (10:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium .

3. Edwin Jackson keeps moving from team to team, impressing everyone with his stuff and his makeup, but never making enough of an impact that anyone decides he's indispensible. Will that change with the White Sox, his fifth team in an eight-year career? We'll find out, beginning with White Sox at Tigers, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park . One interesting note: Jackson lost his final two starts for the Tigers, both against the White Sox last September. One reason he did, according to a source, is that he was tipping his pitches then and the White Sox had picked it up. Jackson is an interesting deadline pickup, anyway, because his career ERA after the All-Star break is 5.09, more than half a run worse than his pre-break ERA of 4.47.
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