Despite an offense that is surging two games into the season, the Detroit Tigers have taken a hit, as starting pitcher Doug Fister will be heading to the DL after leaving today’s game with a pulled muscle in his left side. The exact injury is being deemed a “left costochondral strain”. Fister went 3 2/3 scoreless innings today in Detroit’s 10-0 win over the Red Sox, allowing three hits, one walk, and three strikeouts.
Fister was relieved by Duane Below, who will likely take his spot in the rotation. Below was in a competition for the Tigers’ fifth starter spot this spring, a competition that was won by Drew Smyly. Detroit is bringing up Brayan Villarreal, a reliever, to replace Fister on the roster. Below is the one member of the Tigers bullpen with extensive experience as a starter, as he started 18 games for AAA Toledo last year with a 3.13 ERA, 37 walks, and 83 strikeouts in 115 innings. He struggled in the majors last year, mostly as a reliever. In 29 major league innings, consisting of 12 relief appearances and two starts, Below walked 11 while striking out 14 with a 4.34 ERA.
Detroit has an off day on Monday, so they likely wouldn’t need Below to make a start until the end of next week against the White Sox. Fister’s injury comes at a bad time for the Tigers, as they have a loaded April schedule consisting of series with the Rays, Rangers, and Yankees, in addition to their current set with the Red Sox. However, only the Yankees series is away from Comerica Park.
After coming over from the Mariners last July, Fister was Detroit’s second best starter following Justin Verlander. In 70 1/3 innings with the club, he posted a 1.79 ERA, thanks to 57 strikeouts and just five walks. Fister is known for his precise control more than a nasty strikeout pitch, and it will likely be difficult for Detroit to replace someone of his expertise in their rotation until he’s ready to come back.