Fister toyed with American League hitters in the final month of 2011 with an array of fastballs, cutters, changeups and curve balls. In September 2011, Fister was 5-0 with a 0.53 ERA.
His 2012 season though has been sabotaged by a strained left side. Scattered success has been overshadowed by inconsistent performances. Until his last two starts.
“I think he’s getting to the point where we want him to be, “his skipper Jim Leyland said. “When he makes quality pitches with that late movement, he gets outs. He’s getting his strength back.”
There is no doubt that Fister is regaining his dominant form.
Alex Avila caught Fister’s start in Baltimore the first game after the all star break. Avila noticed a big difference.
“You can tell he is getting stronger and has more stamina,” Avila said. “What you need to realize is that there is a difference between being in shape and being in baseball shape. He is finishing his pitches much better which indicates he has his arm strength back. The only way to really get it back is to pitch innings.”
Bullpen sessions don’t really count when it comes to building stamina.
“There is an adrenalin associated with pitching in a big league game,” Avila said. “You really can’t simulate it.”
With a brisk, no nonsense pace, Fister’s strength is keeping the opponent off balance. He has become a master at handing out a comfortable 0-4.
On Wednesday night, the right hander fanned 10 Angels on his way to eight sparkling innings. He would have come out for the 9th, but stiffened up after he was hit earlier by a batted ball.
“We just didn’t want to take any chances,” he said. “It was a good call.”
In his last two starts, Fister has pitched 15 innings allowing only 5 hits while striking out 18 batters. September –like numbers. Fister hopes to make this September as meaningful as the final month of 2011.
Based on the latest results, Tigers fans have a reason to be excited.