Doug Fister, even-keeled as they get, strives for nothing more than consistency when he pitches. Which made Monday night’s start against the Reds — and a few others since he returned from the disabled list — particularly frustrating for the Nationals right-hander.
“For me, there’s some inconsistency there on the mound,” he said. “I’m not making quality pitches at times that are needed, especially. Just fighting with myself a lot, trying to get the ball down, really trying to get into a rhythm, and it’s a battle for me. I’ve got a lot of work to do the next five days.”
To hear him speak about it, you’d think Fister was rocked by Cincinnati. Truth is, he allowed only two runs (one earned) in six innings during what eventually became a 3-2 loss.
The final line didn’t entirely describe Fister’s outing, though. He gave up eight hits, at least one in every inning, needed a nice catch by Danny Espinosa on Billy Hamilton’s scorched line drive to second to escape a bases-loaded jam and also set the table for a run to score with a wild throw to first base on a routine comebacker.
“I picked it up and rushed it and threw it in the stands,” he said of the error, which came on a wet field. “Not that it was slippery, not that it was muddy. I didn’t execute and get it done.”
Fister has now made four starts since returning from a month-long stint on the DL with forearm tightness, and the results have been mixed. He sports a 3.70 ERA but has only two quality starts during this span and only once has reached the seventh inning.
“He’s given our team a chance to stay in games and win games,” manager Matt Williams said. “He kept them off-balance for the most part tonight, into the sixth, through the sixth.”
The good news for Fister is that he no longer is dealing with the forearm issue that hampered him through the season’s first six weeks. The bad news is he’s still trying to rediscover the form that made him such an effective and consistent force for the Nationals last season.
“That was more physical there,” he said of his early season struggles. “Now it’s more mechanical, trying to get in a good rhythm of being consistent with … whether it’s arm slot, whether it’s body position. There’s a lot of times I don’t try to focus on mechanics too much. But there are things you do need to do to be in the right position to throw a baseball. So I’ve got to really lock down and focus on those things and make sure I execute.”