By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers starting rotation constantly receives praise as one of the best in baseball, and Doug Fister pitched fourth in that rotation in 2013. Now with the Washington Nationals after the Tigers traded him away in the offseason, Fister has pitched better than Max Scherzer, better than Justin Verlander, better than Anibal Sanchez, better than Rick Porcello, and even better than David Price.
Fister has a 2.34 ERA over 111 2/3 innings for the Nationals and a WHIP of 1.066. His numbers are not just better than those of the pitchers who garnered far more attention than him last season – Scherzer, Verlander and Sanchez – but better by a significant margin.
Verlander has endured an uncharacteristically ugly season. Scherzer, Sanchez and Porcello have all pitched well – with ERAs of 3.13, 3.53 and 3.11, respectively – but still pale in comparison to what Fister has done this season. Even the newest addition to the Detroit rotation, David Price, who has a 3.21 ERA over 185.1 innings, looks relatively pedestrian compared with Fister, whom the Tigers traded away for minor-league starting pitcher Robbie Ray, reliever Ian Krol and infielder Steve Lombardozzi, with whom the organization has since parted ways.
The Tigers have gotten several spot starts out of Ray this season. In five appearances for Detroit this season – four starts and one relief outing – Ray has a 5.31 ERA. Granted, the 22-year-old is surely expected to improve with time, but the early returns have hardly been convincing.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Krol had a 4.65 ERA through 31 appearances for Detroit.
The trading away of Fister looks particularly bad in light of the price the Tigers paid for Price – center fielder Austin Jackson and starting pitcher Drew Smyly – and because of the recent dearth of experienced starting pitching thanks to injuries that have sidelined Sanchez and Verlander.
Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski has earned his reputation as one of the savviest in the business, but this is one trade that Tigers fans will not soon let the organization forget.