The Boston Red Sox have won six consecutive games including a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox to wrap up a fantastic week of baseball for the first place team in the American League East. The biggest story outside of Eduardo Nunez as a slugger atop the order has been the emergence of Doug Fister in the Boston rotation. Fister was on the outs and found himself down to perhaps his last chance to stick in the big leagues before he was reinserted into the rotation with David Price hitting the disabled list. Fister has bounced back to record a pair of victories to start and cap off a great week for the ball club.
After posting a 7.89 ERA in 20.2 innings of work for the Sox after joining the team in June, Fister was sent to the bullpen and was another bad outing away from being designated for assignment. The righty hadn’t been able to find himself over the last few years and couldn’t even crack the big league rotation for the Halos this season, before Dave Dombrowski who had Fister in Detroit, took a flier on the veteran ground-baller.
Fister started off the week for Boston against the Cleveland Indians. A daunting task for a righty that hadn’t found much of any success in recent memory. Fister got back to the basics on Monday pounding his two-seamer low in the zone generating ground ball outs. Fister was in command early and mixed in a sharp breaking ball that we hadn’t seen from the veteran since 2014. It really was vintage Fister on display as he found himself tossing a three-hit shutout through the first seven innings. Fister was practically flawless until he allowed a two-run home run to Bradley Zimmer in the eighth breaking up the shutout effort, but was still plenty to pick up his first win of the campaign.
Fister, looking to build off his stellar outing on Monday, attacked the zone quickly on Sunday afternoon against the Chi Sox racking up three quick outs including a pair of punch outs. The Red Sox offense came out swinging for the right-hander as both Nunez and Chris Young launched solo homers to give the red-hot BoSox an early lead. Fister ran into trouble in the second inning allowing a flurry of hits to the White Sox hitters and relinquishing the Boston lead, but bounced back to turn in a quality effort. With some help from Chris Young, who provided the go-ahead three-run homer, Boston went on to win 6-3 and Fister earned his second victory of the week. Fister departed to a standing ovation after 6.1 innings of work where he racked up 7 punch outs.
The adjustments Fister made after being demoted from the rotation are apparent. Not only has Fister made a conscious effort to command the zone and own the lower-half with his two-seam fastball, but the results he is getting when throwing the breaking ball are evident. Fister has also taken a page out of Chris Sale‘s book and has been swift with his approach to hitters. Get the ball, attack the zone, generate outs. The confidence with which Fister has pitched with over the past week will do him wonders through the second-half for the first place Red Sox.
When asked about the ovation he received when leaving the mound at Fenway Park twice this week Fister said the following, “That’s definitely an honor to be a part of this club and to walk off to an ovation like that. The fans that we have here, we’ve got great fans, and they let us know that when we play good baseball they’re going to support us. That’s what they’re doing right now.”
Fister will look to build off the momentum from the two victories in a road start against the rival New York Yankees next week. “You know, I feel really good, it’s a work in progress as always, it’s been a long time coming. It’s been a lot of hard work, especially for the coaches that put a lot of time in on the video, trying to figure out the best way for me to fix it. And some of it is staying across body, some of it is a little bit of deception, some of it is just staying through my delivery and staying through the pitch. It seems to be working all right so far and getting back to normal. Again it’s a work in progress.”
As someone who advocated for the Red Sox to add Fister, to see the type of results he is getting on the mound right now is rewarding. Granted, it’s only two starts and the Red Sox can’t seem to do anything to lose a game over the last week, but Fister picking up a pair of wins in one week is something that not many including myself could have predicted. I’ve rooted for Fister since his days in Detroit, through his success in 2014 with the Nats and even last season through the ups and downs with the Astros. He is my type of pitcher, ground ball guy that comes in and gets to work, logs innings and generates outs commanding the zone. Fister will certainly raise some eyebrows if he continues to pitch like this when David Price is off the disabled list, but that is a good problem to have for Boston if they have six starters throwing the ball well each time out.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank