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A complete pitcher

Jun 22, 2014, 12:10 AM EDT

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As he walked off the mound and back toward the dugout following his 117th pitch of the night, not a single one of them having led to an Atlanta Brave crossing the plate, Doug Fister finally let himself move out of the moment and consider the bigger picture.

There may be no member of the Washington Nationals pitching staff with the ability to maintain tunnel vision like Fister, a master at focusing only on the inning at hand, the at-bat at hand, the pitch at hand. But once the right-hander knew his evening was done and he saw the sellout crowd of 40,677 standing to applaud his effort, he doffed his cap and shook hands with teammates and coaches.

“I expended everything I had tonight,” he said. “It’s just a token of gratification from me to the fans standing up and giving a standing ovation to the guys. Just saying thank you.”

Everything that Fister had was more than enough to lead the Nationals to an oh-so-needed, 3-0 victory over the Braves, one that moved them back into first place in the NL East after a one-day reprieve. That his lights-out performance — eight scoreless innings — came on the heels of a 13-inning loss that taxed both the Nats’ bullpen and mental fortitude only made the moment sweeter.

“He controlled the strike zone, all of his pitches for strikes, working ahead in the count,” manager Matt Williams said. “All of those things that pitchers do when they go deep into a game, he did that tonight. Really stepped up for the bullpen, too.”

The Nationals are loathe to declare any one member of their star-studded rotation more important than the rest. Every one of them has pitched like an ace at some point.

But Fister probably has pitched more like one than anybody else. In five of his nine starts now, he has allowed two or fewer runs over seven or more innings. Five times he has taken the ball in the wake of a Nationals loss, and four times he has led them to victory.

And on this night, knowing his mates in the bullpen were in dire need of a break, he logged some overtime, going eight full innings while throwing the third-most pitches of his career.

“You know, looking back it was obviously very important,” Fister said. “But during the game, you don’t think about it. You go out there one inning at a time and say you want to get three quick outs. That’s something that doesn’t change.”

Something else that doesn’t change, no matter the situation: Fister’s quick pace on the mound. He throws the ball. He catches the ball. He throws the ball again, never giving opposing batters enough time to think.

“That is the game as a pitcher: You control the game, and they react to you,” he said. “That’s a mentality you go out there with every day. I am going to control what I can control and go to work after that.”

The guys standing in the field behind Fister genuinely appreciate his rhythm.

“We love it,” third baseman Anthony Rendon said. “He gets right back on the mound. In between innings, he is waiting on the umpires to tell him when he can throw that first pitch. It’s pretty fun playing behind him, because you know you are going to get a lot of action.”

And, for good measure, Fister remains an offensive contributor as well. Twice on Saturday he was called upon to bunt, and twice he came through, advancing a runner who ultimately came around to score.

He is truly a complete pitcher. And nine starts into his Nationals career, he’s 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA. More than worthy of a standing ovation Saturday night, and perhaps plenty more before this season is over.

“We talked about it a lot, the fact that he can help himself out a lot, win games, stay in games,” Williams said. “It’s important. He takes pride in it. He’s a good fielder. He can swing the bat a little bit. He’s an effective runner. All of those things contribute to allowing him to go deep in games and trusting the fact that he’ll get it done. And he certainly has.”

  1. davecydell - Jun 22, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    I still take Tanner.

  2. David Proctor - Jun 22, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    Ian Krol was just placed on the DL with a shoulder issue. He has a 4.32 ERA so far this year.

    • pburm9qp - Jun 22, 2014 at 1:14 AM

      Hopefully he’s ok. Shoulder problems can be scary.

  3. Sonny G 10 - Jun 22, 2014 at 3:03 AM

    I really like Fister. He inspires confidence in me.

  4. chazzmichaelmichaelzz - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:07 AM

    Fister has become the Werth of the starting pitching staff. Way more valuable than his stats. His work ethic, mentality, and approach to the game will pay dividends for this year and years to come. It’s no surprise the starting pitching all the sudden “got hot” when Fister came back. Furthermore, his postseason experience will be huge come this October.

    Of all the trades Rizzo has made, this seems to be turning into his greatest.

    • 3on2out - Jun 22, 2014 at 4:32 AM

      +1

  5. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 6:36 AM

    In contrast to Doug Fister’s cool demeanor, check out this maybe the bonehead play of the season from the Brewers/Rockies game resulting in 3runs scored on one wild pitch!
    http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_06_21_atlmlb_wasmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=was&partnerId=ed-8342050-55222047#gid=2014_06_21_milmlb_colmlb_1&mode=video

  6. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    Oops, wrong link came up. I’ll try to find the right one.

    • Doc - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:31 AM

      Thanks, Seams.

      There’s baseball the sport, and baseball the comedic entertainment.!

    • janebeard - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      Thanks Joe. What a great clip. Segura was SO SO SO HEADS UP to sort of walk toward home and not catch their attention since the ball was still in play but the Rockies were too depressed to notice. A great example of great running an poor defense. And man do I recall the days when the later was how we would be playing.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        Jane and Doc, I am still cracking up over that series of guffaws! And, Jane, I also remember those dark days of lore! And I am not missing them.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 22, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        “You can watch this game your whole life, and tonight you might see something you’ve never seen before.”

        Segura has been central to two of my favorites: this one, and the time he stole first base on the Cubs.

  7. knoxvillenat - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    “He controlled the strike zone, all of his pitches for strikes, working ahead in the count,” manager Matt Williams said. “All of those things that pitchers do when they go deep into a game, he did that tonight. Really stepped up for the bullpen, too.”

    Now this is exactly what I’m trying to say about areas where Gio needs to improve. Throw pitches for strikes, work ahead in the count, pace of play……don’t keep your fielders standing around. I realize Gonzalez has been a pretty good pitcher for the Nationals, especially in 2012, I contend however he could even be better if he were to improve in certain aspects of the game. And this quote from Williams and another from Rendon about Fister’s pace of pitching, nails exactly what I’m trying to say.

    Good job Doug Fister! GYFNG!

  8. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    Gotta love Fister’s approach.

    On another note, I don’t tend to like in-game interviews due to the distraction from on-field action, but I did find the one with Gerald Laird interesting, even if he is a Brave. He had good things to say about former battery-mate Fister as well. Kevin Frandsen’s interview was something else. You don’t need to mull that over because it’s a fact. :-)

    Stay unbuttoned, boys, and let’s get ‘em again today, when I’ll actually be at the game. Go, Tanner! Go, NATS!!

  9. MicheleS - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    So nice to be at the game last night, the 1 time stupid barves fans tried to start the chop, we drowned them out. It’s been an exhausting week of baseball for me, so staying home today and doing chores!

    GO TANNER!!! GYFNG!!!!

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      It sounds like the start of a movement:

      STOP the CHOP!

      GYFNG!!!

    • dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      +1
      What a difference a coiuple of years make…I got thrown out over the chop on July 20,2012 (the 8 run comeback game)
      Proud to be a Nats fan last nigh shouting them out. After that drownout, the choppers were down and out.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        dcwx, props to you for that.
        When they 86’d me, I suspended them for six games.

      • dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        Great thought.
        I single handedly tried to stop the chop in my section.
        I couple of big Braves fans had other ideas. Never say
        shut the F Up esp to a couple of ex marines.
        But I’d never been at a more disheartening game and other personal issues at play for me.

  10. Doc - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Like Roark, Fister is mostly about ‘how’ you pitch, not ‘what’ you have as pitches.

    There have been a lot of great pitchers, with long careers, that do it that way.

  11. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    How about the Syracuse Chiefs yesterday? 16 runs on 21 hits, and NO home runs! They scored 11 runs in the 2nd inning!

  12. edshelton2013 - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    Call ‘em all up!

  13. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Words of wisdom from the late George Carlin:

    Just cause you got the monkey off your back
    Doesn’t mean the circus has left town

    Put dem Braves down again today!

    GYFNG!!!

  14. janebeard - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    It was a very fun game and I love that our fans were courteous and raucous and chopped the chop. It helped of course that we had something to be raucous about.

    We noticed Fister talking to the infield guys more than other pitchers. Anyone know what that’s about?

    Headed out again today. GYFNG!

    • ArVAFan - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      Fister has a reputation for planning his pitching in advance. He was probably telling them what he was going to pitch, so where to expect the ball.

      Other unrelated notes from yesterday’s game. We were guests of Ian Desmond for batting practice. Of course, since the Nats got a pass from MW due to the late game Friday, we only saw the Braves bat (but better in batting practice than during the game, right?) I did have a chance to talk to him about his NF fundraising, got some photos. And his face really lit up when I told him where we sit–they can definitely hear the N-A-T-S cheer coming from the 313 area. Ian was really friendly with all the kids, even the families who were guests of other players or coaches.

      Thinking back to the Pitchers & Catchers in Spring Training, I remember how well Fister could bunt, compared to the other pitchers. Obviously, that wasn’t just in Spring Training.

  15. ArVAFan - Jun 22, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Back on topic: loved the quote in the Post this a.m. When Braves did manage to get on base, they were chatting with Adam about Fister’s pitching. One asked if the balls had been replaced with Whiffle Balls, because of the amount of movement on the pitches.

  16. Brookstoor - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    A couple thoughts:

    The Braves really know how to position themselves on defense. They seemed to (almost) always be in the perfect spot to make a play on the many hard hit balls.

    Freddie Freeman chokes up on the bat in a way that I wish some of our guys would emulate. He’s really tough to strike out, but he did a few times. He can go down low and make contact to foul off a pitch or even put it in play with authority.

    Fister is a champion, no need to say anything else about him.

    A split today will feel like a series win, but I wasn’t even discouraged after the extra innings loss. In fact it left me feeling like we’ve been playing the Braves well this whole series and that eventually we would have wins to show for it. Fister goes 8 scoreless to let the bullpen rejuvenate and we’re back on track for today’s game. The crowd looked great last night, too.

    • dcwx61 - Jun 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      40,677
      a sellout??? but I checked my guide which had park capacity at 41,546

      But a beautiful night and a beautifully played games for our side

      • 6ID20 - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        Comp tickets etc are not counted in the announced paid attendance.

  17. npb99 - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    No question this is the guy I’d want to pitch a must-win/final game in a series. First choice Fister, second Roark, third JZ, fourth Stras.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 50 1.5
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
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