Jan 30, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 30
How acquired: Traded from Tigers for INF Steve Lombardozzi, LHP Ian Krol and LHP Robbie Ray, Dec. 2013
2014 salary: TBD via arbitration (Fister is seeking $8.5 million, Nats are offering $5.75 million)
2013 Stats: 32 GS, 208.2 IP, 229 H, 91 R, 85 ER, 14 HR, 44 BB, 159 K, 1.308 WHIP, 14-9, 3.69 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 4.6 WAR
2014 storyline: An often underrated rotation member in Seattle and Detroit the last four seasons, Fister now joins the Nationals after general manager Mike Rizzo sent three young players to the Tigers in exchange for the right-hander. With Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann ahead of him in the rotation, Fister won’t be asked to carry this pitching staff but rather to bolster the back end. He’s been both consistent and effective, posting a combined 3.30 ERA since 2011 while averaging 30 starts per season.
The 6-foot-8 hurler relies on a heavy sinker and the downward plane generated by his height to keep pitches down in the zone and force batters to pound the ball into the ground. That’ll be a nice change of pace from the rest of the Nationals rotation, which includes more classic power pitchers.
Best-case scenario: Given the opportunity to face NL lineups (sans DH) and to pitch in front of a Nationals infield that is defensively superior to the Tigers’ quartet of the last two years, Fister becomes even more effective in his first season in D.C. He churns out 210 innings, strikes out 175 batters and goes 17-8 with a 3.25 ERA, solidifying himself as far and away baseball’s best No. 4 starter.
Worst-case scenario: The BABIP gods sometimes don’t smile on groundball pitchers, and one of these days, Fister might fall victim to some bad luck. Combine that with a lack of comfort in his new league and with a new club, and you get a disappointing debut season: 10-14 with a 4.00 ERA.
Most-likely scenario: Fister has been pretty consistent the last few years, so there’s not a whole lot of reason to think he’s going to vary dramatically from his recent performances. The Nats have every reason to expect 200 innings, 150 strikeouts, a lot of groundballs, a 3.50 ERA and a 14-10 record.
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