It's been no secret that the Detroit Tigers needed to get a starting pitcher. One day before baseball's July 31 trade deadline, they've gotten their man.
The Tigers have agreed to a deal with the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley. Going to Seattle in exchange are pitcher Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells, minor league third baseman Fernando Martinez and a player to be named later.
Fister has an unimpressive 3-12 this season for the Mariners. But his ERA is 3.33, and he's received terrible run support from the Seattle lineup this year. In 16 of Fister's 21 starts, the Mariners have scored two runs or fewer.
What kind of a pitcher are the Tigers getting? Fister, 27, is a tall right-hander (6-foot-8), but not a fireballer, with 89 strikeouts in 149 innings (5.5 per nine). His fastball tops out at 90 mph, but it's a sinking fastball so he gets a lot of groundballs (46 percent, to be exact). Fister mixes four pitches in his repertoire (fastball, slider, curveball, changeup).
Providing additional value for the Tigers are Fister's low salary ($436,500 this season) and his arbitration status. Fister still has all of his arbitration years remaining, meaning he's under club control for the next three seasons. Even with the raises he'll surely receive, his cost is still controlled by the Tigers and he won't be a free agent until 2015.
Pauley fills another hole for the Tigers in the bullpen. He's appeared in 39 games for the Mariners this season, compiling a 5-4 record and 2.15 ERA. Pauley also isn't a strikeout pitcher, with 34 in 54 1/3 innings, relying more on groundballs (49 percent) from his sinking fastball. (Jim Leyland likes to have a sinkerballer in the bullpen, which is one reason why he always preferred Zach Miner as a reliever, rather than starter.) He also throws a cutter and curveball, but seems to prefer a changeup to go with that sinker.
The exact details of who the Tigers will ultimately give up in the deal haven't been clarified. Besides Furbush, Wells and Martinez, the Seattle Times' Larry Stone says the player to be named "could be a pretty significant name." Could that be another pitching prospect? Perhaps, but the Mariners have one of the worst offenses in the majors and need help all over the field.