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Washington Nationals roster review: Doug Fister


Washington Nationals roster review: Doug Fister

Age on Opening Day 2016: 32

How acquired: Trade with Tigers, Dec. 2013

MLB service time: 5 years, 58 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $11.4 million

Contract status: Free agent

2015 stats: 25 G, 15 GS, 103 IP, 120 H, 56 R, 48 ER, 14 HR, 24 BB, 63 K, 1.40 WHIP, 5-7, 4.19 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 0.2 WAR

Quotable: "For me, once I'm on the mound, I'm on the mound. It doesn't matter if I'm starting a game or relieving in a game, it doesn't matter. Once the ball is in your hand, it's time for business," Fister on moving to the bullpen for the first time in his career.

2015 analysis: Doug Fister, much like his teammates Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond, did not have the season he hoped for in the final year of his contract. Fister, in fact, had the worst season of his career and it ended up costing him his job in the Nationals' rotation.

It was a remarkable turn of events for the right-hander, who was arguably the team's best pitcher the year before. Fister saw his ERA go up from 2.41 in 2014 all the way to 4.19. He gave up 56 runs in 103 innings in 2015 after allowing 52 total through 164 innings the year before. 

The Nationals' rotation did not live up to expectations this season and perhaps nobody exemplified that more than Fister. He was their rock in his first season in D.C., a model of consistency. Only four times in 25 starts in 2014 did he allow four earned runs or more. He did that eight times in 2015.

By August, Fister was replaced in the rotation by rookie Joe Ross and banished to the Nats' bullpen. Now he enters a crucial offseason with his value significantly diminished.

2016 outlook: Before the 2015 season, it looked like a foregone conclusion that the Nats would extend a qualifying offer to Fister this winter and in turn receive a compensation pick when he signed elsewhere. At this point, though, it looks very unlikely that they will make that offer, as Fister could very well take it given the off-year that he had.

If Fister had hit free agency last offseason, he would have been in line for a lucrative multi-year contract. Now, however, he may be smart to take a one-year, prove-it deal and try to reset for next offseason with the hope of cashing in on a big contract. 

Like Zimmermann, Fister enters a free agent class stocked full of quality starting pitchers. He may be on the outside looking in of the top 10 starters available. That should not bode well for Fister, who some teams may see as a bargain once they peer past the big names like Zack Greinke, David Price and Johnny Cueto.

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Nationals CF Victor Robles closing in on a return to the lineup

Nationals CF Victor Robles closing in on a return to the lineup

He has not played since Game 2 of the National League Division Series when he pulled up because of a hamstring strain after crossing first base. The strain was described at the time as “mild.” Robles has been working toward a return since then.

“We're going to run him a little bit [Sunday],” Davey Martinez said Sunday on a conference call. “He's got to get some treatment, and then we'll see [Monday]. He'll participate in BP and do a little bit more running, and we'll see where we're at [Monday].

“I'm not going to anticipate anything until he comes in [Monday], but he's progressing, and hopefully he'll be ready [Monday].”

Michael A. Taylor replaced Robles in center field. He hit an important solo home run Saturday and is hitting .300 in the postseason. He also made a significant judgment error in the outfield which allowed the Cardinals’ lone Game 2 -- and series -- run to score.

Martinez made it sound like Taylor’s time as the starting center fielder is over when Robles is ready to return.

“Victor has been in center field all year, and he's played really well for us,” Martinez said. “When he's healthy, he'll get a chance to play. But like I said before, we want him to be at 100 percent. So until then, we'll see what happens here in the next day or so.”

Few other changes are expected Monday. Stephen Strasburg will start. Kurt Suzuki -- despite his lack of postseason hitting and trouble throwing out runners -- should be behind the plate.

Reliever Roenis Elías, who has not thrown a pitch in the major leagues since Sept. 5, may be in the mix Monday because Patrick Corbin’s bullpen appearances are now on hold prior to his Game 4 start.

“Moving forward, Elias is going to have to get those big outs against the lefties here in the next couple days,” Martinez said.


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Harper-Dusty reunion? Baker reportedly interviewing for Phillies manager job

Harper-Dusty reunion? Baker reportedly interviewing for Phillies manager job

After the Washington Nationals won back-to-back NL East division titles from 2017-2018 but failed to make it past the NLDS in each of those seasons, they cut bait with manager Dusty Baker by electing not to re-sign him when his contract expired.

Baker now has a chance to return to a managerial role, as the Chicago Tribune is reporting that he’s earned an interview with the Philadelphia Phillies after they fired Gabe Kapler last week.

The Phillies of course employ the services of Bryce Harper, who played under Baker in Washington and has spoken highly of him in the past.

After the Nats let him go, Baker stepped away from baseball for a year before joining the San Francisco Giants as a special adviser to the CEO last season. The two-time All-Star outfielder has managed the Giants, Cubs, Reds and Nationals over parts of 22 seasons, amassing a career record of 1,863-1,636 (.532).

Of the 15 skippers with more wins in their managerial careers, 13 are in the Hall of Fame and one (Bruce Bochy) is a shoo-in to get there. The other is Gene Mauch, who joins Baker as the only two managers with at least 1,600 wins to never claim a World Series title.