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Fister to the bullpen, Ross to stay in rotation

Aug 6, 2015, 8:18 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images

[Updated 9:50 p.m.]

He was the Nationals’ most consistent pitcher last season and their only starter to win a playoff game, but 7-year veteran Doug Fister will now move to the bullpen.

Manager Matt Williams made the announcement after Thursday’s game, saying that rookie Joe Ross will remain in the rotation when Stephen Strasburg returns from the disabled list on Saturday against the Rockies.

“Stras is going to start Saturday and Doug’s going to our bullpen,” Williams said. “[Fister] wants to pitch. He’s willing to do whatever we can to help us win. He was out there [in the bullpen] today and he’ll continue to be out there and get innings where we can get him innings. He’s a team guy.”

Fister, 31, has struggled this season with a 4.60 ERA in 15 starts. He allowed five earned runs, including a career-high three homers, in his last outing on Aug. 3.

Fister was excellent in 2014, his first season with the Nationals. He finished eighth in NL Cy Young voting with a 2.41 ERA in 25 starts. The Nats acquired him in a trade with the Detroit Tigers after the 2013 season.

Now Fister will be a long-relief option for the Nationals.

“It’s a difficult task when you’ve been a starter for so long. The opportunities for him will be long, that’s kind of where we see it. It’s never easy, but he’s willing to go out there and help us win ballgames.”

Fister accepting the move was something that impressed his teammates. Fister is in the final year of his contract and has proven himself as a starting pitcher, yet now he will be a reliever for the first time in his career.

“I mean Dougie is great and he’s kind of gone through injuries and stuff this year,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “Hopefully that will let his arm get back in shape a little bit, maybe and feel a little bit better. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be a big part of this team for the rest of the year.”

“Dougie’s a professional. I wouldn’t expect him to say anything different,” Clint Robinson said. “Tough for him, but I know he’s going to go to the bullpen and continue to work. He’s going to do everything he can to help us.”

“He’s a pro. He’s a standup guy, he’s a good person and he’s a team guy,” Matt Thornton said. “That’s what they want and he’s going to accept it. He’s probably not all that happy about it, but that’s what they want right now and he’s going to do his best in whatever role he gets into.”

Ross, who was the beneficiary of the move, said he plans to talk to Fister when he gets the chance on Friday.

“I need to go thank him, obviously, because I’m sure he could have just said he wanted to stay. For me to get the opportunity to keep starting and for him to, I guess, choose the role of going to the bullpen, it’s great. Anything we can do to win games and make a good playoff run,” he said.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 6, 2015 at 8:19 PM

    Makes sense.

  2. unkyd59 - Aug 6, 2015 at 8:24 PM

    Wow… Maybe he can get his mechanics worked out between appearances…. Joe Cool definitely has a finite number of starts, so Fister or Roark will be back, before much of September passes, right?

  3. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 6, 2015 at 8:39 PM

    One other thing about Ross’s performance: AZ didn’t run on him. Maybe because they didn’t have enuf scouting on him, or maybe because he has a quick delivery to home? Anyone have some arithmetic on that? One SB in 45 innings. (Sherzer has five, Zimmermann six.)

  4. tcostant - Aug 6, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    Implied but not said, Fister turned down a fake DL stint.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2015 at 9:38 PM

      I would agree. When Haren struggled like this they sent him to the DL to rest then go on rehab and work out his mechanics in a low stress environment.

  5. stoatva - Aug 6, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    Wait a minute… this is just a little too much like right.

    • Karl Kolchak - Aug 6, 2015 at 9:13 PM

      Wouldn’t have happened had Ross been just “good” filling in for Strasburg, or were Fister not pitching so poorly. Heck, might not have even happened were the Nats up 7 or 8 games on the Mets. But Joe forced their hand and they need him right now. Good for him.

  6. donkort - Aug 6, 2015 at 9:00 PM

    Fister was pretty darn good last year. The Major Leagues are brutal! I hope he rights himself, and gets back in the rotation.

    • senators69 - Aug 6, 2015 at 10:22 PM

      +1
      Nats need Fister to be right in the pen or as a SP
      VERY happy for Joe Cool.
      I didn’t see the game but read Ghost’s account of Ross’ pitch repertoire. Sounded great.

  7. veejh - Aug 6, 2015 at 9:11 PM

    Well, it’s the right move for the team right now.

  8. janebeard - Aug 6, 2015 at 9:30 PM

    I agree it’s the right move for the team. AND that it must be hard for Doug. Really cool of him to handle it so well. And after the diss of giving up his number to Papelbon, too. He is a class act.

    Read on Twitter that Joe only found out he was staying up when the reporters told him. Fun.

  9. NatsLady - Aug 6, 2015 at 9:32 PM

    Watching Ross, he is deliberate in his delivery nowhere near as fast as Fister or Scherzer. Yet-to-be determined is how good he is at holding runners, I would say.

  10. Nats Fan Zee - Aug 6, 2015 at 9:36 PM

    Good bet that we see both Strasburg & Fister in Saturday’s game. Stephen is not an inning burner.

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2015 at 10:24 PM

      Especially in his first return start. Good call.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v339615383/?game_pk=415267

    This is the 2 run double against Janssen. Hard shot down past a diving Clint Robinson but for a right-handed Ryan Zimmerman it’s an easier play on a tough play as he doesn’t need to dive. We will never know if RZim fields that but I always wonder about those things.

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2015 at 10:25 PM

      Yeah — I wondered about that too — but it happened too fast for my old eyes. (And they didn’t do a replay!)

    • zmunchkin - Aug 6, 2015 at 11:21 PM

      I had the same thought and rewound on my DVR. I do think Zim gets it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 7, 2015 at 12:26 PM

        RZim has made some lightening quick grabs to his glove side which is right on the line.

        No lefty is getting that.

  12. raleighnat - Aug 6, 2015 at 10:14 PM

    Wow. Good to see and kudos all around.

  13. adcwonk - Aug 6, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    During the game, we were talking about Esco getting hit — for the 7th time this season.

    At that time, I was “‘watching” on Game Day — and didn’t realize that on the previous pitch, he fouled a ball off of his foot that really hurt.

    The two-pitch sequence is here: http://m.mlb.com/video/v339450883/?game_pk=415267

    Now, about those LoD-ers that say the guys don’t care, play soft, and etc. . . ?

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 7, 2015 at 4:41 AM

      Many years ago, as an impressionable child, I heard a color analyst on some game of the week say, after a hitter fouled a ball off his foot, “If you want to get an idea of what that’s like, go out into your garage and get a ball peen hammer, and hit yourself in the foot as hard as you can., and then go right back to doing what you were doing.”

      I’ve never forgotten that, perhaps because I’ve had a few “reminders.”

      • adcwonk - Aug 7, 2015 at 9:09 AM

        + (ouch!)

  14. therealjohnc - Aug 6, 2015 at 11:08 PM

    Ross to the rotation, Fister to the bullpen. Makes sense, given recent performance. Kudos to the Nats for making the right move despite the veteran status of Fister. But, this creates an interesting question:

    When Strasburg is activated for Saturday’s start … who goes?

    The five rotation guys (Strasburg, Scherzer, JZim, Ross, Gonzalez) and the eight regulars (Ramos, Zim, Rendon, Escobar, Desmond, Werth, Taylor, Harper) and the backup catcher (Lobaton) are clearly OK. Espinosa and Robinson are locks as well. In the bullpen, Papelbon, Storen, Janssen, Fister, Rivero and Thornton are not going anywhere. That leaves four guys for three spots: Uggla, Moore, Roark and Treinen.

    If they go with a short bench and an 8 man bullpen, that would mean Uggla or Moore go. Neither has any options. If they stay with the seven man bullpen, Roark or Treinen go. Both have options.

    Wild card idea: Roark to AAA to stretch back out as a starter, so that he’s available as an option when Ross hits his inning limit (whenever that is).

  15. therealjohnc - Aug 6, 2015 at 11:36 PM

    So, if Strasburg is back and starting Saturday It sets up the rotation for the next 10 games; if I’m figuring correctly it means that Scherzer does not pitch against the Dodgers while (if my guess is correct) the Nats get both Kershaw and Greinke again. The next 10 games, with pitching matchups:

    Fri 7 Aug vs. Colorado (Zimmermann – R/de la Rosa -R)
    Sat 8 Aug vs. Colorado (Strasburg – R/Flande-L)
    Sun 9 Aug vs. Colorado (Scherzer- R/Butler – R*) *poor bastard – drew King Felix in his last start
    Mon 10 Aug @ LAD (Gonzalez – L/Anderson – L)
    Tue 11 Aug @ LAD (Ross – R/Greinke – R)
    Wed 12 Aug @ LAD (Zimmermann – R/Kershaw – L)
    Thu 13 Aug @ SF (Strasburg – R/Leake – R)
    Fri 14 Aug @ SF (Scherzer – R/Cain – R)
    Sat 15 Aug @ SF (Gonzalez – L/Peavy – R)
    Sun 16 Aug @ SF (Ross – R/Bumgarner – L)

    Ross has his work cut out for him – it looks like he’s matched up against Greinke and Bumgarner in his next two starts.

    If the Nats can get out of SF within 2-3 games of first place, I’ll be happy about it. The Mets play the Rays this weekend. The Mets have the pitching advantage Friday (deGrom vs. Odorizzi) and Saturday (Syndegaard vs. former Nat Nate Karns) but Sunday’s tips to the Rays (Colon vs. Chris Archer). They then get their hacks at the hapless Rockies while the Nats play the Dodgers. Then the Nats have four in SF against the Giants while the Mets play three in Pittsburgh against the Pirates.

    • Jfmii - Aug 6, 2015 at 11:51 PM

      Wow what lovely information about a very difficult stretch coming up.
      Thanks.

      • rlndtln - Aug 6, 2015 at 11:58 PM

        Roark to AAA.Treinen has better stuff for an inning like the 6th or 7th.Fister long relief.Uggla gone when and if Denard returns before sept.1.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 7, 2015 at 4:43 AM

      You know, I don’t think Ross cares right now. They could line him up against the 1927 Yankees, and he’d go 6 innings with no more than 3 runs.

    • zmunchkin - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:54 AM

      I wonder if the fact that the ants have not burned an option this year of Roark plays into this?

      A minor injury with a rehab stint until Sept 1 if they want to keep Trienen on the roster?

    • zmunchkin - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:59 AM

      [expletive deleted] spell check. Nats not ants.

  16. Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 7, 2015 at 4:59 AM

    • zmunchkin - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:51 AM

      Well said Teddy! Thx for sharing sofa.

    • Bruxtun - Aug 7, 2015 at 9:52 AM

      +Bull Moose

  17. natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2015 at 7:00 AM

    Thanks to Doug and congrats to Joe.

  18. natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2015 at 7:01 AM

    aaaand WordPress it out of sync. Quelle surprise.

  19. lphboston - Aug 7, 2015 at 11:55 AM

    Being the nicest guy in the world does you no good if you can’t get batters out.

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