From a strictly fantasy perspective, here’s what you need to know:
1. Doug Fister: While Fister has a top 15 WAR over the past 3 years for SP, for fantasy purposes he’s been more of a top 50 arm. Fister has averaged 12 W, 147 K, 1.19 WHIP and a 3.31 ERA over the past three years. His lack of strikeouts greatly diminishes his fantasy potential and appeal. While the move to the NL should help increase his K rate facing opposing pitchers, it’s unlikely to vault him into the top 40.
Looking at Fister’s second half numbers in 2013 might be misleading (7-4 3.18), as opponents batted .291 off of Fister after the All-Star Break. His ERA was a sparking 3.18 after a first half 4.02, but his xFIP actually went up. His WHIP was a very high 1.39 in the second half.
Fister will slot in nicely after Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmermann giving the Nationals an incredible rotation for 2014. I’d slide Fister up the rankings for 2014, but exercise caution. Don’t go overboard with the excitement of moving to the NL and away from the mostly poor infield defense in Detroit. He’s a good pitcher, not a great pitcher, though you could do worse for your SP3 slot.
2. Drew Smyly: As a starter in 2012, Smyly pitched 95 ip, allowing 26 BB while striking out 88. Opponents hit .243 off of him. Smyly is a fastball/slider pitcher and he absolutely dominated in the bullpen in 2013, striking out 81 in 76IP with just a .219 opponents batting average. Right handed batters hit him at a .242 clip. Smyly will need to mix in and be effective with his change-up as a starting pitcher for the Tigers.
Smyly fills the Tigers need for a LH starting pitcher. This trade doesn’t boost his value necessarily as Dombrowski already said Smyly would be in the rotation next year. This just confirms it. Smyly will be on a pitch count in 2014 so don’t over pay. For keeper leagues, Smyly represents an interesting target. While he won’t match Fister’s durability in 2014, he should post some good numbers while on the mound. His K rate may end up closer to the 8.5/9ip of 2012 than the 9.6 of 2013. Again proceed with caution. For 2014 alone, I’m taking Fister.
A quick look at the Tigers “haul”:
Steve Lombardozzi: I like Lombardozzi and he’ll replace Ramon Santiago as a utility guy. I’ve had the displeasure of watching Santiago over the past dozen years with Detroit, and while I don’t expect anything from Lombardozzi fantasy-wise, he’ll be a fun guy to watch when he does get into the lineup.
Robbie Ray: The prize of the deal for Detroit, Ray is a power lefty arm reaching mid-90s with his fast ball. He had a dominant 2013 season between A+/AA. In 11 starts with Harrisburg, the 22-year-old struck out over 9/9ip and walked just over 3/9ip. He’ll instantly become Detroit’s best pitching prospect and will slot in after Castellanos as their number #2 overall prospect. In most systems he’s not the #2 guy, but for a system this lacking, Ray provides a great boost.
Ian Krol: A power lefty reliever to help offset the loss of Smyly to the rotation, Krol struck out close to 11/9ip in the minors in 2013 before he debuted with Washington. In his first half batters had an OPS of .430 off of Krol. In his second half, 1.120. There’s some good potential for this left-handed reliever and Detroit needs all the bullpen arms it can get.
I hate this trade for Detroit. While Fister isn’t Scherzer or Verlander, and doesn’t have the ceiling of Smyly, he’s been one of the games most reliable arms since he was traded from the Mariners in 2011. One of my favourite recent baseball memories is listening to the calls of Fister striking out 9 consecutive Royals in 2012. I remember pulling the car over in the 7th inning and screaming along with every strike. I’m going to miss Fister as a Tigers fan, but this was absolutely the right time to sell high on him. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear they were able to do that.