Just as fantasy owners scrambled to find quality pitching throughout the season, MLB teams were searching for arms to fill vacancies. The Red Sox swooped in and claimed Doug Fister off waivers in June, and while the surface numbers were uninspiring (4.88 ERA, 1.38 WHIP), the peripherals featured a career-high 8.3 K/9. It came at the expense of control, as Fister uncharacteristically issued a lot of walks (3.8 BB/9, also a career high), but at times he looked like a successful late-career restoration project for the Red Sox. In addition to changing his position on the pitching rubber, Fister started getting more whiffs with his cutter, giving him another pitch (along with his curveball) to put hitters away. Given the league-wide need for depth arms, Fister signed with the Rangers and will join the Texas rotation.
Fister agreed to a major-league deal with the Rangers on Sunday, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Fister's signing is still pending a physical, but it currently appears that the 33-year-old is on his way to Arlington. Fister posted a 4.88 ERA (3.98 FIP) last season over 90.1 innings (15 starts) with the Red Sox but drastically increased his strikeout rate from 14.8 percent in 2016 to a career-high 21.2 percent clip in 2017. The righty will be a key component in the Rangers' 2018 rotation that is sorely in need of some more reliable starting options.
Fister will take the mound for Game 3 of the ALDS against the Astros on Sunday, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports. Manager John Farrell confirmed that Fister will take the mound for Game 3 once the series shifts to Boston. This likely leaves Rick Porcello for Game 4 on Monday, or Chris Sale on short rest, if the series extends beyond three games. Following a good stretch near the end of August, Fister has struggled mightily over his last four outings, posting a 9.18 ERA and 1.86 WHIP during 16.2 innings of work.
Fister was added to the ALDS roster, and will likely be in line for a start once the series returns to Boston on Sunday, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. With Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz already confirmed as the starters for the first two games of the series, respectively, it's assumed that Fister will take the mound for Game 3 on Sunday, or Game 4 on Monday, if it's necessary. The right-hander was not going to be added to the roster as a reliever, which means Eduardo Rodriguez will likely come out of the bullpen as a left-handed specialist. Over the course of the 2017 season, Fister compiled a 4.88 ERA and 1.38 WHIP during 90.1 innings.
Fister allowed three runs on nine hits with no walks in a no-decision Sunday against the Reds. He struck out nine. Fister allowed an RBI double to Scooter Gennett in the first inning before coasting into the fifth. He faltered a bit in that frame, allowing two runs on three hits to erase his chances of picking up the victory on the afternoon. Fister still came through with an improved performance after two miserable outings, throwing 68 percent of his pitches for strikes while tying his season high in punchouts. Far from a lock to make the postseason rotation, the veteran will make his final claim Friday against the Astros.
Fister allowed five runs on five hits and five walks across two innings in a no-decision Monday against the Orioles. He did not record a strikeout. Fister endured a miserable outing, throwing just half of his pitches for strikes while achieving a new season high in free passes. He was brought back out for the third inning after allowing three runs in the second, but the veteran was pulled after loading the bases with nobody out. Fister enjoyed a nice run of form into the month of September, but he's since allowed 11 earned runs over six innings across his last two starts. The veteran is scheduled to take the mound Sunday against the Reds.