The start of the 2017 baseball season is only approximately a week away. As of now, it appears that the Pittsburgh Pirates, coming off of a 78-83 (and 1 tie that no one seems to recognize) season, are going to have the following starting pitching staff:
Tyler Glasnow or Drew Hutchison
Taillon, Kuhl, and Glasnow all made their major league debuts in 2016 with varying degrees of success. Glasnow, in particular, struggled though he's pitched better recently in spring training. While Hutchison has slightly more professional experience, he has had a poor spring training thus far. With apologies to unproven Steven Brault and Trevor Williams, who both seemed destined to start the season in AAA, if any of the starting pitchers get injured or struggle, there appears to be no reliable depth. Enter Doug Fister.
The 33 year-old pitcher is currently a free agent. I'm not really good at presenting baseball stats, but Fister has a career 3.60 ERA. That is better than every Pirate that started a game in 2016 with the exception of Nova and Taillon.
(Thanks to Matt Gajka of DK Pittsburgh Sports for this graph from Baseball Reference.)
Fister was a league average pitcher with a 0.0 WAR in Houston last season (not exactly a pitcher's park), yet, he pitched 180 innings, more than any other Pirate in 2016. He also had a fantastic 2014 season in Washington when he went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA. From following the Nationals, I can understand his disappointing 2015 season as the team inexplicably bounced Fister back and forth from being a starter to the bullpen. So after a combined 8.6 WAR in in 2013-2014, he only had a 0.2 WAR in 2015-2016. I also remember him being a ground-ball pitcher (though I don't have stats to support this) which works well at PNC Park. I think coming back to the National League and working with Pirates' pitching coach Ray Searage will help Fister be closer to the pitcher he was in 2013-2014.
Since Fister hasn't pitched yet this spring, the Pirates can easily let him get stretched out in AAA or extended spring training, particularly since the team won't need a 5th starter very often in April.
I'm completely on the Pirates should sign Fister bandwagon. I may even need to start a petition. In the meantime, I'll just use the hashtag #PiratesSignFister.
Get it done, Pirates!