Major league dreams reborn for one Red Sox pitcher, dying for another

(Photo: Matt West)
Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

Baseball is a game that often emulates life, you never know what can happen on a given day.

Doug Fister is in his ninth year at the major league level when he became a free agent. He had just finished a full season for the Astros where he had a 12-13 record with a 4.46 ERA over 32 starts. The problem was that he nose dived at the end of the season going 0-5 with a 10.54 ERA over his last seven starts.

When nobody came knocking for a major league contract in 2017, Fister waited.

“I didn’t want to go back to the minors. I knew I could still pitch,” he said. “I was content to wait and see what happened.”

May 22nd he signed with the Angles for a reported $1.75 million dollar minor league contract. After just a few minor league starts Fister was put on waivers where the Red Sox were quick to claim him, picking up his salary as well.

“Two months ago, I was sitting at home, doing nothing, and trying to get ready on my own,” Fister said. “So to be in the game again and be part of a great clubhouse, I'm so gracious for it. Things can turn on such a quick note. For me, I'm very, very grateful. I'll tell you what, being part of this team has one been a humbling experience and just a blessing."

The Red Sox are using him as a depth band aid on the rotation injuries that have plagued them all season. They have lost Steven Wright for the year and Eduardo Rodriguez to a knee injury since June first. None of the Triple-A options have worked out as rotational depth so far and the Red Sox high expectations around Henry Owens seems to have almost reached and end.

(Photo: Joel Page)
Owens, who was demoted to Double A Portland last month, pitched his first game for Sea Dogs and it was another backward step. He failed to get out of the first inning, issuing 6 BBs and allowing three runs in just 42 pitches with only 15 of them actually crossing the strike zone. Since being drafted by the Red Sox in the first round in 2011, he has made 16 starts, but this year has walked 66, hit six, and thrown six wild pitches in 69⅔ innings in the minors.

The question is how long the Red Sox will keep the 24 year old Owens career on life support?

At 33 years old, Fister meanwhile has put up a pretty good audition with the Red Sox starting two games and keeping them in the hunt for a win both times. He went six innings against the Angels and five innings against the Blue Jays. Manager John Farrell has been pleased with these efforts.

“He’s made some big pitches with men on base in both starts. That to me is a guy who doesn’t let the game speed up too much,” Farrell said. “He’s not afraid in big spots against key hitters to reverse the count. What I mean by that is to throw pitches in off the plate with a purpose, trying to set up maybe an off-speed pitch to record an out.”

Fister starts tonight against the Rangers whom he faced five times last season and sports a 4.73 ERA against them.

His dreams of reviving his career hinge on the return and stability of Rodriguez. Rodriguez is expected to return after the All-Star break. This could mean the departure of Fister to the minors and test his ability to function on an AL-East contender in the role of rotational band aid.

Will he stay or will he go?

Post a comment or via twitter @erics_redsox with your thoughts.

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