Gio Gonzalez told reporters who gathered at NatsFest this weekend in the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, that he's always been a "big, big fan of Doug Fister," and learning that the Washington Nationals acquired the right-hander from Detroit earlier this winter, Gonzalez said, was like, "...knowing that you just got the brand new car you wanted for Christmas."
"He's one of those guys that everything you're expecting, he's going to make it happen," Gonzalez said. "I think he's one of those guys that competes and gives you seven, eight innings every time. And he's proved it in the playoffs. He's proved it in big games. He's one of those guys that's going to be a big, big piece for us."
"He's one of those pieces that we need," the Nats' left-hander continued. "Especially, I didn't realize how tall he was until you walk up to him. He's a big guy and I think that plays a big role as a pitcher. When you feel like you're that close to the mound and that close to the hitter. For me, when you've got someone with that kind of presence, he's going to set the tone in the fourth spot, fifth spot, first spot, second spot. It doesn't matter where he is in that rotation. He's just going to be to us an ace."
Fister might want to ask his new rotation mate to argue his case if the former Tigers' starter and his new team go to arbitration this winter. In his fifth major league season in 2013, on a 1-year/$4M deal, the 6'8'' right-hander finished at (14-9) with a 3.67 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 44 walks (1.90 BB/9) and 159 Ks (6.86 K/9) in 33 games, 32 starts and 208 2/3 IP over which he was worth +4.6 fWAR. When Fister and the Nationals submitted figures for arbitration recently, the pitcher asked for $8.5M in 2014 while the Nats offered $5.75M.
If it's up to Fister, he said this weekend that he would prefer to get a deal done with the Nationals.
"We both want to settle," the 29-year-old pitcher told reporters. "It's one of those things that nobody ever wants to go to arbitration. So, we're looking to see what we can do. At this point we'll see what kind of plays out."
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Going to arbitration with the Nationals is something Fister said he would prefer to avoid.
"We don't want to," he said. "You never want to start off or ever have that problem. So I'm sure there's going to be something that we'll be fine with."
Fister said he feels he'll bring another dimension to an already-impressive Nationals' rotation.
"I know a lot of them, right off the bat, throw hard," Fister said. "That's a great attribute for us, so I feel like I can mix in and to offset some of that stuff. Mix in a different look for the hitters. Being able to use the defense that we have, we've got a great defense. We've got a lot of Gold Glove candidates and recipients out there, so, I'm looking forward to playing with them behind me."
Bryce Harper said Fister was "one of the best pitchers" he's faced and said he's excited to watch him pitch. Tyler Clippard sounded about as excited as Gio Gonzalez when he too talked last weekend about the addition of pitchers like Fister and reliever Jerry Blevins. "Our pitching staff is ridiculous," Clippard said. "Our starting five, bullpen, top to bottom I'll put our arms up against anybody in the league." Fans in the nation's capital aren't the only ones who are excited and waiting to see what Doug Fister can do.
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