... A's 0, part 1

Q.  What happened out there?

A.  Irresistible force meets immovable object, dept... 

On the postgame, Jay Buhner noted that the Oakland A's lineup is trying to out-manage the strike zone against the pitcher.  Fister took away the A's hitters' counts by going first-pitch strike.

Dennis Eckersley was a master of this profound strategy:  (1) know whether the hitter is passive or aggressive; (2a) throw offspeed and off the plate against the aggressive guys; (2b) pound the strike zone for 0-1 counts against passive hitters.

The A's have a passive lineup, passive in a good sense, and Fister knocked their floating underhand layups into the cheap seats.

Fister, on his game, is a good matchup against teams waiting for a walk.


Q.  Nah.  This is just what happens when you throw strikes to a bad lineup in a big park.

A.  This is our 6th attempt against the A's lineup, in pitchers' parks, and I don't notice that any of the other guys threw 3-hit shutouts.

We don't get to wave off Doogie's performance because it was in Safeco.  RRS and Vargas have thrown a ton of strikes too, with the problem being that those strikes didn't make it past the sticks waiting for them in the strike zone.

It's fine to tell the guy on the mound to throw strikes. :- ) The guy on the mound knows that he has eight AAA cleanup hitters waiting to blast those strikes.  It's a little more complicated than just deciding to throw 71 strikes and 29 balls:  you need some way to get those strikes 63 feet instead of 60.


The A's had lousy swings against Fister all night long.  That will happen when you're painting and changing speeds.


Q.  That big a deal, really?

A.  Well, it's one thing to throw a 7-inning shutout when your team goes up 6-0 in the second inning, and you're throwing strikes, and the losers are mailing the game in.

This was 8 separate one-inning battles, in a tie game.

Fifth inning, for example, Doogie's teammates had given him zero runs... and then threw a ground ball away to put an A's runner on 2B.  They're giving him less than nothing.  Doogie nonchalantly pole-axed the next two guys on a very high popup and a three-bouncer to second.

Was pretty shocked that Wakamatsu sent Fister back out for the 8th inning.  Fister breezed there, too.


It doesn't anoint the guy an All-Star, but it was a top-flight performance (not result).  Afterward, Wakamatsu emphasized the mound presence, the confidence, which was a big part of the reason that Fister came into camp with a rotation slot.  His mental strength is above that of other young pitchers.


Part 2



Felix deserves one every start, but hadn't yet scored his first W...
Game 9 and the first W for a starter.  Huh.  ... in this case, the stat applies, since this was the first non-Felix game in which a guy went out and grabbed a low-scoring game for the M's.
Lee back on May 1 or 2?  I believe it, if he threw 60+ and the oblique (?) didn't grab.  Will come not a moment too soon...


Fister's performance was without a doubt EXACTLY the thing that Z has been fishing for with almost every pitching acquisition (save Lee).  That 'mound presence' quality IS the telling difference between thrower and pitcher.  And there is no doubt that Fister showed that in this game.
The question long term is how OFTEN Fister has that game - vs. how often he comes in and had a 2:1 K/BB (the wrong way) -- and/or how often he brings his "Weaver" toolkit to the park.
I'd love nothing more than for Fister to turn into Washburn.  But, until I see another 180 innings, I'm gonna have to stick by my concern about his high hit rates of the past.


Agreed that this was the Bansai Tree that they visualized in Fister.  Agreed also that the jury is not out, and won't be for a while.
Am not clear about one thing, w/r/t the hit rate question.  Are you saying that it's in Fister's game to run a very high BABIP compared to other soft-tossers?  Why?


My theory is that sky high hit rates are a symptom of lower than standard 'stuff' in the repetoire.  What we know is that - "normal" hitters have .300-ish BABIPs.  We know that some hitters can consistently beat that -- mostly by being spray hitters with speed.  NOBODY knows where there balls are going - so you can't effectively hedge your defense the you can against everyone else.  Additionaly, there are massive pull guys who defeat BABIP demons simply by hitting the ball so hard, even the shift doesn't matter.
Seeing a guy who is "consistently" at 10+ hits per game - from day one to present - that rings my bell that somehow this is a 'skill' that he owns.  Since it is unlikely that Fister is making the Pablo Sandoval's of the world faster -- I'm going with the other likely culprit - that Fister - throughout his MINORS career - has gotten hit HARDER than his counterparts.
Of course, the stellar control mitigates this.  Swap two walks for 1.5 hits, you can still survive (at least for awhile).  But, it is the persistence of the extra 1.5 hits that I'm focusing on.  Pitchers ROUTINELY spike to 10+ hits when changing levels - or even just having a bad year.  So, I can write off a 'random' 11-hit period/season as just that - random.  Maybe working on a pitch.  Maybe changing his motion.  If transient, then I'd remove it from my take on what he is - (or is likely to become).
So, my best theory is that from his first day in the pros until present day - Fister has consistently allowed a hit-and-a-half more than everyone around him.  So, whether it is a case of too many mistake pitches -- or a tell on his change -- or a FB variant with no movement -- WHATEVER the cause -- it is one that multiple levels and coaches have not been able to detect and/or rid him of. 
That said - if Seattle again has an 8.4 hit defense -- and Fister doesn't lose any additional ground to MLB hitters - he goes to 9.9 hits/9.  There ARE a few pitchers who survive the majors at that level.  But, he'd be post with a normal defense -- and my fear is that whatever it is that has allowed minor leaguers to get those extra 1.5 hits WILL be discovered by major league scouts - and when this happens, I fear that the 1.5 extra hits could turn into 3 extra hits, and it's back to Tacoma.
If he had fixed the hit issue when he posted the 7:1 ratio, I'd have a completely different take.  But, he didn't fix it then - it got worse -- so, I've gotta stick with there is a significant flaw in Doogie's game "somewhere".  Since nobody in the minors fixed it, I've gotta believe it's a regularly reoccuring transient.  It isn't there 100% of the time - but it shows up enough to inflate his hits by 1.5 overall.  So, I'd expect Doogie to have a wider-then-norm Delta between low and high hits compared to other like pitchers.


We Shandlerites believe in "mistake avoidance" -- usually expressed in HR rate or HR/F rates -- and there's no reason that a pitcher couldn't be guilty of grapefruit-itis.
And if there were a grapefruit-itis, it would be reasonable to ask whether Doogie had it.  He's not exactly Bartolo Colon out there.  :- )
Common ground is:  Doogie is always going to have to be extra careful about centered fastballs.


My sense of 'normal' vs. 'out-of-bounds' makes me think it probably isn't the centered FB that's causing the extra hits.  If it were obvious (and fixable), I'd think somebody prior to Seattle would've already remedied the problem.  So, my guess would be that the culprit is something subtle - that gets shrugged off, since it's a come-and-go issue.
In thinking about the Unsub - the savior for Fister 'might' be that he DOES isolate the occurence -- so maybe he'll actually be an 8.4 hit pitcher for Seattle 70% of the time - and the hit-parade games are spread out - and are therefore categorized as 'just an off day'.  The key in that respect would be to try and identify a tell for those days - and when they occur, go with a really quick hook.

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