Mar 2, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — After watching Doug Fister dazzle in every one of his bullpen sessions and live BP outings the last two weeks, the Nationals might have expected nothing less than perfection the first time Fister took the mound in a game.
That’s a lot to ask, though, and so Fister’s debut Sunday felt a bit like a letdown. Even though it was perfectly satisfactory.
The right-hander allowed one run on two hits and a walk in two innings against the Marlins in a performance he called “erratic.”
“Overall, not bad,” Fister said. “Obviously there’s still a lot of things I need to work on. My biggest thing is my command. I felt a little erratic out there. Trying to get to know myself again this year. It’s just a matter of … really it’s a matter of fine-tuning the sinker.”
Indeed, the sinker is Fister’s bread-and-butter pitch. When it’s on, as it was throughout the first two weeks of camp, everything he throws is at the knees. When it’s off, he leaves pitches up in the zone and risks surrendering some hard-hit balls.
The latter happened more than Fister would have liked on Sunday, particularly during a second inning in which three Marlins reached base.
“Again, a little erratic, left a couple over the plate,” he said. “A couple flew up and were too far inside, but the main focus for me is keeping the ball down. I felt like I was kind of 50/50 today. That still needs to be a focus.”
Fister did get things started in fine fashion, striking out leadoff hitter Matt Angle looking at a curveball. He then got Donovan Solano to whiff at a sinker for his second straight strikeout. All told, he threw 19 of his 30 pitches for strikes, a bit lower percentage than he’d typically prefer.
More than anything, Fister was pleased to get through his first start with his new team and get a chance to advance his working relationship with catcher Wilson Ramos.
“I think we’re pretty well already on the same page, and he caught on very quickly,” Fister said of his batterymate. “We’ve talked a little bit, but a lot of it comes from game experience, and that’s something that today we were able to do and just kind of get to know one another.”
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