Fister Flummoxing

Doug FisterDoug Fister was supposed to come up and keep a spot warm for Brandon Morrow. His only real asset was supposed to be control. AAA batters were hitting over .300 against him, after all.

Two victories later, over the Yankees and Angels of all teams, has me taking a closer look at Fister. Granted, he still does not have many starts. Balls are getting hit at defenders too, as evidenced by a remarkably low batting average on balls in play. Still, consider the two starts against the Yankees and Angels:

14.1 IP, 13 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR

That is Fister's combined line against the two best lineups baseball has to offer right now. Two lineups that routinely butcher and bludgeon all sorts of pitchers. Is Fister really that lucky, or really that good?

The likely answer is neither.

More balls will find holes eventually, and that will hurt Fister. I expected an average on balls in play of at least .300, and it is approaching .200 right now. Also, virtually any pitcher can look great for short stretches. For example, take a look at some of Oliver Perez's starts from the past few seasons. He is capable of greatness, but also capable of failing miserably. Seeing Perez here and there at just the right times could convince you he's one of the best pitchers in the game.

However, frankly, when it comes to Fister, I didn't think with his best stuff and luck he could shut the Yankees down like he did. Now, he's gone out and silenced the vaunted Angels lineup too.

Luck only carries any pitcher so far. Ditto goes for killer defense, like the M's have. Each solid start by Fister makes it less likely that luck is contributing, and more likely that it is skill.

Reality is bound to catch up with Fister. The run he has started his career with is too remarkable, and unsustainable. However, reality might be a dependable innings-eater at the back end of the rotation. Fister could be what Carlos Silva was supposed to be, except for less than 1/24th of the price.

I still can't figure out exactly what is making Doug Fister so successful right now. It can't be all luck. The flummoxing, lanky control artist has become a must-see-to-believe revelation. I keep waiting for him to stumble, but he simply refuses to. Maybe it's just because he is a little too good to fall. It's as good of an explanation as any at this point.