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Doug Fister has been aces for Red Sox


Nobody dropped what they were doing to pay attention when the Red Sox claimed pitcher Doug Fister off of waivers from the Angels in June. The right-hander put up unimpressive numbers in three starts with Triple-A Salt Lake. Combined with his age and coming off of two lackluster seasons in 2015-16, the expectation was that Fister would simply eat some innings at the back of the Red Sox rotation as needed and that was it.

Little did anyone know that Fister would turn out to be a godsend for the Red Sox. Things didn’t start out impressively, as he gave up 12 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings across his first three starts. The Red Sox intermittently used him out of the bullpen and the rotation towards the end of July before he became a permanent fixture in the rotation. In seven starts since July 31, Fister has a 2.79 ERA with a 44/14 K/BB ratio in 48 1/3 innings. The Red Sox won five of those seven starts. The club has been able to hold onto first place in the AL East as a result, leading the Yankees by four games.

It was hard to see Fister’s production coming. He hadn’t put up a strikeout rate above 15 percent since 2013 (the league average is above 20 percent). His walk rate increased from 3.6 percent in ’14 to eight percent in ’16. After peaking with a 54.3 percent ground ball rate in ’14, it dropped to 45 percent over the last two seasons. His fastball velocity struggled to stay above 87 MPH. This year? While he has a high 9.9 percent walk rate, his strikeout rate is way up, near 21 percent. His ground ball rate is back to 50 percent. He’s averaging close to 90 MPH on his fastball. While Fister is not back to his 2013 self, when he pitched 208 2/3 innings with a 3.67 ERA, his peripherals indicate he’s a pitcher the Red Sox can actually feel comfortable relying on as the regular season winds down and the postseason begans. And they may have to.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.