For Dave Dombrowski, trading deadline acquisitions in recent years have fizzled more than sizzled. Yet, bolstering his pitching staff with Doug Fister this past July proved to be a fantastic move. Not many in Detroit knew much about the tall righty, other than he was 3-12 with the Seattle Mariners. On the surface, not very impressive. Yet, as you looked deeper into the numbers, you found a low 3.33 ERA and a WHIP a little over 1.00.
So, Dombrowski sent Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin and prospect Francisco Martinez to the Mariners for Fister and David Pauley. Dombrowski hooked up with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik two years earlier in a move that netted the Tigers starter Jarrod Washburn. Even though that deal fizzled, Dombrowski went back to the same well. The Fister acquisition more than erased the sour taste of Washburn’s 1-3 record and 7.33 ERA in eight pennant -stretch starts for the Tigers in 2009.
While the Tigers expected Fister to solidify their rotation, it probably was beyond their dreams to get a pitcher that would put up the best September numbers on the staff. Especially when the staff includes Justin Verlander. Fister was downright dominant in his 11 stretch-run appearances with Detroit. His 8-1 record reminded many Tigers fans of Doyle Alexander’s 9-0 run in 1987. In September alone, Fister was 5-0 with a 0.53 ERA.
So, while the Indians garnered most of the headlines with the acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies, the Tigers were rolling toward a division title with a pitching staff led by Fister ‘s gaudy September numbers. Of the other starting pitchers acquired at the deadline, Dombrowski clearly made the most impactful move. Here is a comparison of some other deadline deals for starters versus the numbers Doug Fister compiled.
Ubaldo Jimenez – Indians (4-4 5.10 11 starts)
Erik Bedard- Red Sox (1-2 4.03 8 starts)
Jason Marquis- Diamondbacks (0-3 9.53 3 starts)
Doug Fister- Tigers (8-1 1.79 11 appearances 10 starts)
While the Tigers continue to look for a fifth starter this off season, the rotation going forward looks as solid as any in the AL Central, if not the league. One trading deadline move not only helped the Tigers win their first division title since 1987, but it also added a strong piece to a rotation that looks formidable for the next few years. The other key component to the deal is that Fister figures to dazzle Tigers fans for at least the next few seasons. He is not eligible for arbitration until after next season and won’t be a free agent until after the 2015 campaign.