By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Overall, midseason addition Doug Fister has performed about as well as the Red Sox could have hoped in 2017. He’s given them more than 70 innings, keeping his ERA under 4 and picking up five wins from the end of July through early September.
Yet on Wednesday night at Fenway Park against the Oakland A’s, Fister just didn’t have it. He allowed four runs in the opening frame and lasted just four innings, giving up six runs and taking the loss.
Though Fister’s been very good lately, as evidenced by his 2.79 ERA from July 31 through Sept. 6, the first inning remains a problem for him. With the four runs allowed on Wednesday, his first-inning ERA on the year jumped from 7.36 to 9.75. His WHIP climbed from 1.455 to 1.667.
It’s obviously an issue, and it’s one that Fister can’t quite explain.
“I have nothing to explain. I really have no idea,” he said. “I go out there with the same mentality, the same approach, first inning, last inning, it doesn’t matter. It’s one of those things, I guess I need to start kicking myself in the shin and being ready in the bullpen and just kind of get mad from the get-go. So I’ve got to figure that out for myself.”
Fister’s ERA in the second inning hasn’t been much better (8.25), but he’s largely been solid in the middle innings. But it’s those rough starts that have Fister as the owner of a 5-8 record.
“It’s something, again, that I need to figure out,” he said. “I can’t continue to let this happen.”
Manager John Farrell noted that Fister’s curveball “wasn’t as sharp” as usual and lacked “the teeth to it as late in the strike zone” that it normally has. Farrell did suggest one aspect of Fister’s pregame routine that might be contributing to the problem.
“One thing I’d like to sit and talk with him, because his routine is he warms up earlier than most guys. And then there’s a little bit of a gap of time between the end of his warmups and the first pitch,” Farrell said. “To me, that’s the only common thread that I can see here where maybe that little bit of an expanded time frame forces him to go out and reestablish his release point. I know that’s customary for him, that’s what he’s typically done. But when you see the consistency of the first inning being some traffic or some base runners, I’d like to talk with him and see if there’s a way we can adjust that.”
With Fister in line for just three more starts in the regular season, it’s no secret where he’ll need to improve if he wants to be given the ball for a postseason start.