With the Blue Jays missing several pieces of their starting rotation, there were reports that they were among as many as 4 clubs who attended a showcase for MLB veteran, Doug Fister, as reported by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.
The Blue Jays had one of the healthiest rotations in baseball last year, relying almost exclusively on their regular 5 man rotation throughout the year. Francisco Liriano joined the club at the trade deadline and made a few starts, and Drew Hutchison made a couple spots starts before being traded, but otherwise it was a long healthy year for the rotation.
This year has been a different story, as J.A. Happ remains on the DL with no immediate timetable to return. Aaron Sanchez has landed on the DL twice already, and now Marcus Stroman is dealing with tightness in his armpit area, though we don’t know if or how long that’ll keep him out.
The first wave of replacements included Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence, neither of whom fared terribly well unfortunately. Latos has been designated for assignment after making 3 starts for the Blue Jays, and getting knocked around pretty badly in his final appearance. Lawrence could be back in the rotation at some point, but his 8.38 ERA in 13.1 innings doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence either.
With that in mind, the Blue Jays were reportedly one of the teams to take a look at Doug Fister‘s recent showcase, as reported by Chris Cotillo on Twitter this morning. In fact, our own Brendan Panikkar actually looked at Fister as an option a couple weeks ago as well, which you can check out here.
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Fister spent last season with the Houston Astros and remains unsigned at this point in the offseason. He’s had a long enough track record of success that it’s surprising he’s still unemployed, but there were reports of him turning down MiLB offers this spring, waiting out the market for a major league contract.
Apparently the Blue Jays were joined by the Mets, Diamondbacks, and Angels at the showcase, and Fister also threw for the Giants more recently, so it looks like his waiting out the market may have paid off. Cotillo names the Mets as the most likely team to scoop him up, as they’re dealing with injuries to several starters as well including Noah Syndergaard, Steve Matz, as well as a brief suspension for Matt Harvey from the club. They could use the arms almost as badly as the Blue Jays.
Fister won’t be a world beater, but there’s a good chance he could contribute some quality starts this season. He finished the 2016 campaign with a 4.64 ERA making 32 starts and contributing 180.1 innings. His best season came with the Washington Nationals in just 2014, when he finished 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA. He’s never been a hard thrower, so it’s entirely possible he could improve on last year’s numbers and bring real value to a MLB rotation.
For now, the Blue Jays will continue to look for answers in the rotation, starting with the Joe Biagini experiment here on Sunday. It’s likely they’ll wait for updates on both Stroman and Sanchez (the latter had a positive side session Sunday morning), but we could see the Jays continue to keep their eyes open for rotation help, including keeping an eye on Doug Fister.