Doug Fister makes his long awaited return to the National tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Nationals rotation was supposed to be a vaunted unit, but injuries, most notably to Fister has hampered that equation. Fister came over as a prize possession from the Detroit Tigers, and then Max Scherzer came over as a prize possess from the Tigers. Scherzer has been working out thus far, but as a whole, Fister has failed to live up to expectations. Part of the problem has been his inability to stay healthy, far too often he is watching instead of playing. And when he has played, he hasn’t looked completely comfortable, at least from what we were used to seeing out of Fister in Detroit and even Seattle. He hasn’t pitched since May 14th, where he was put on the disabled list soon after allowing 7 runs in only 2 innings pitched. That is the kind of stuff that tells you something is wrong.
Every year a pitcher no one has really heard of emerges and pitches brilliantly, then it isn’t until around the All-Star game that people actually start to take note. That is what you get with Chris Archer from the Rays. Archer is pitching at an excellent rate this season and already had a good year under his belt in 2014. In 2015 he is looking to make some noise and being heard. The All-Star game voting is all out of whack, so who knows if the players make it that actually deserve it, but hopefully Archer gets acknowledged for his accomplishments. A road game for them in Washington Thursday night.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Washington Nationals
Chris Archer (7-4, 2.00 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (2-2, 4.31 ERA)
This game all comes down to how you think Doug Fister is going to play tonight. And he may have to pitch one hell of a game because the guy on the other end has been a flamethrower. Additionally, the Nationals offense is still trying to find their way offensively. They put up a big fat 0 on the scoreboard last night, and face a tough test tonight on the mound in Chris Archer, so good luck to them. They did bust out for 16 runs two nights ago, but I think that is about the total amount of runs they’ve scored for the past month. Inconsistency has spelled their demise, or at least, not living up to expectations as a powerhouse. When they added Scherzer the Nationals were thinking World Series, but they aren’t at that point yet.
Archer enters Thursday night with an ERA of 2.00 with a 0.94 WHIP. In his most recent starts, in his last three games, Archer went for a 1.64 ERA with a 0.82 WHIP and .220 OBP. He allowed 3 runs in his last start, which was the most since May 7th, seven starts ago. I think it is to be expected that Fister might come into this game a little rusty from being off. I wasn’t overly thrilled by the starts he has had this year healthy other than a couple of solid outings. I give the Rays a -140 chance of winning this game, so of course I’m going to make a play on them with the price were getting of -128. They are a better team than they are being recognized for at 37-30, and Archer is a big reason for that.
PICK: RAYS TO WIN -128