What to Look for: Doug Fister

Doug Fister is tasked with the highly unenviable task of extending the Tigers season once again. Last time out, Fister pitched five decent innings against the Yankees in Game Five of the Divisional series. Now Fister faces an equally daunting lineup in Texas with the Tigers post-season lives all but hanging in the balance.

Fister acquitted himself well against the Bronx Bombers, surrendering just a single home run among five hits and two walks. What can we learn from his approach against the Yankees that might translate against the red-hot Rangers?

Parkes looked at Doug Fister ahead of Game Five against the Yankees, breaking down his pitch selection. Taking it a little further, we can examine (via Joe Lefkowitkz’s pitch f/x database) the way he works against hitters in particular counts. To wit:

The righty-heavy Rangers line-up offers a lot of power for Fister to contend with. While the Yankees threw patient lefties at Fister in waves, the Rangers will lean on right-handed batters like Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and not Michael Young.

How can we expect Fister to attack these hitters? To quote every blowhard on twitter and the baseball world at large, he will “pound the bottom of the zone.” Fister attempts getting righties out with sinking fastballs and location. Not a lot of breaking balls or offspeed stuff.

Here are all the pitches Fister threw to the Yankees in his Game Five outing.

Call me crazy but I think a guy like Adrian Beltre will give Fister fits. Beltre isn’t afraid to expand the strike zone with power, hitting a pitch into the seats that usually results in a simple rollover of weak pop fly.

I expect Fister to try and use his slider a little bit more tonight in an attempt to get aggressive hitters like Beltre and Nelson Cruz off-balance. Meanwhile, a more patient hitter like Ian Kinsler might find himself in two-strike holes in a hurry if he doesn’t adjust to Fister’s nibbling ways.

It is obvious to state that Tigers fortunes are tied to Fister’s outing tonight. The longer he lasts in the game, the better he’s pitching (duh.) It also gives the Tigers beleaguered and not-particularly deep ‘pen a rest. Here’s hoping the Tigers are able to give us a real series against the more talented Rangers.