If this goes down, I'm really looking forward to all the jokes.
After signing relief pitcher David Hernandez to a contract on Wednesday, rumors are swirling at the Winter Meetings that the Phils are interested in a veteran starter for the rotation.
Phillies are looking at doug fister. Good buy-low candidate. Philly also needs veteran for rotation.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2015
Fister is not going to knock your socks off, but he is a veteran pitcher who gives the Phillies a much-needed elder statesman to keep those rapscallions Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Jeremy Hellickson and Adam Morgan in line.
You know, kids.
He was not too good in 2015 for the Nats, appearing in 25 games, 15 of them starts. He went 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA and a 4.55 FIP, with an fWAR of 0.2. He averaged 5.5 K/9 and 2.10 BB/9, and saw his average fastball velocity drop to 86.2 mph, according to Fangraphs.
He's not going to miss many bats, so the hope is that he gets the ball on the ground. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case in recent years, seeing his ground ball rate fall from 54.3% in 2013 with the Tigers, to 48.9% in 2014 with Washington and 44.6% last year.
He was also prone to the longball last season, with a 12.0% home run rate, the highest since his rookie season with Seattle in 2009.
However, the Phillies are hoping that injuries to the 31-year-old were part of the reason for his struggles in DC last season. After all, in 2014 he did finish eighth in the Cy Young voting after going 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA. Of course, that was accompanied by a FIP of 3.93 and a strikeout rate of 5.4 per nine innings that seems to indicate a little bit of batted ball luck was a factor.
And, in fact, that was true. In 2014, Fister had a BABIP of .262, the lowest of his career. Last year, it ballooned to .310, much higher than his career BABIP of .294.
He was also one of the better pitchers in baseball from 2011-2013, posting fWARs of 5.1, 3.4 and 4.2 in those three seasons. Last year, it dropped to 1.4, even though he finished in the top-10 of Cy Young voting for the only time in his career.
Fister makes a lot of sense for the Phils. He'll probably come to the team on a one-year deal and, if he can figure out how to locate his stuff as his velocity declines, he can still be effective. That would allow the Phillies to then spin him at the trade deadline in 2016.
There are other teams in pursuit, but don't be surprised if Matt Klentak pulls this off.