Doug Fister will make his first start in a Nationals uniform on Sunday in Viera against the Miami Marlins. Fister, acquired in an offseason trade with Detroit, has impressed Nationals coaches, especially Manager Matt Williams, with his bullpen sessions, effort in workouts and attention to detail.
The Nationals have plenty of starting pitchers in camp and a lot of innings to fill, so Williams has cautioned about reading too much into the starters in the early games. Some starter may have to piggyback off other starters within games. Fister follows Taylor Jordan, who starts the first game, and Jordan Zimmermann, who starts the second. Williams had declined to announce the starting pitchers beyond two days ahead.
Jordan, along with Ross Detwiler and Tanner Roark, is competing for the last spot in the starting rotation. Detwiler is the incumbent and has looked healthy in camp. Williams said there are several pitchers competing for the spot, even mentioning prospect A.J. Cole when asked about him. But, Detwiler followed by Jordan and Roark appear to be the leading candidates.
Asked what he is looking for in the starters competition, Williams kept his requirements broad.
“I’m hoping to see that they’re competing hard for it,” he said. “We have a number of guys that have that opportunity. I want them to have that in mind and to relish that opportunity and prepare themselves to compete hard in spring for it. Not looking at anything in particular but looking to go to New York with our 25 best.”
Williams does want to evaluate a pitcher’s attention to smaller details and their effort rather than the results.
“I want them to be aggressive in the strike zone and throw their secondary pitches for strikes, look at how they hold runners,” he said. “And how they manage the game themselves. Results are results and you can’t evaluate off of that. But how they go about their business is important.”
● Tyler Clippard and Ross Ohlendorf will be held back from the Nationals’ first three games, Williams said. Both pitchers were scheduled to throw live batting practice on Friday morning.