This week officially has a theme – after Ted Lilly (strained shoulder), Roy Halladay (strained lat) and Jered Weaver (strained back) landed on the disabled list over the last two days, Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Doug Fister (strained side) has now joined the party, and is heading back to the DL with the same injury that caused him to miss most of April. There’s been a lot of straining going on as of late.
Fister was deactivated after his first start of the year with a costochondral strain, and the hope was that a few weeks of rest would cause the issue to resolve itself. He was able to make five starts – and pitch well in those five starts, posting 3.47 xFIP during May – but the issue has returned, and now Fister is back on the DL for another period of rest.
Losing Fister for a few weeks isn’t the end of the world, but the injury’s recurrence has to concern the Tigers beyond just the time he’ll spend on the sidelines. Muscle strains have a history of lingering, and if Fister has to pitch through the injury all season, it could be a continuous issue. It does not appear to be serious enough that it prevents him from being effective when he is able to take the mound, but his ability to remain in the rotation on a consistent basis for the next four months has to be a question at this point.
To make his start on Friday, the Tigers have called up Casey Crosby from Triple-A, whom Marc Hulet rated as the Tigers fourth best prospect before the season began. Crosby is the anti-Fister, throwing good stuff from the left side with well below average control, and hoping he can get enough strikeouts to offset all the walks. His last two starts have been two of his best, as he’s run up 16 strikeouts against just one walk in 15 innings pitched, but he’d walked 15 batters in his three previous starts, so consistency is probably going to be an issue.
It’s certainly worth the Tigers time to give the kid a look and see if his stuff can translate to the big league level even with spotty command, but with Fister’s status up in the air, you can probably add the Tigers to the list of teams that may very well be hunting for a big league starter at the trade deadline. That list has gotten very crowded in the last few days.