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Red Sox claim Doug Fister off waivers from the Angels

Another starting pitcher added to the depth chart

Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Red Sox could use a little bit more starting pitching depth with Steven Wright, Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez all on the disabled list for a varying amount of time. Hector Velazquez filled in solidly in his last spot start and the team probably wouldn’t be too badly off if they stuck with him for now, but the depth after that is thin to the point of nonexistence. So, on Friday the Red Sox made a move to take care of that, claiming Doug Fister off waivers from the Angels.

As Cotillo later clarified, it was indeed a waiver claim rather than a signing, meaning they pick up the salary that is owed to Fister. He was signed to a deal that gave him $1.75 million, prorated for his time on the active roster. Apparently, he will be placed right on the active roster from the jump.

There was some speculation that Fister could join the Red Sox all winter and into the spring, but Boston never bit on making a deal. Instead, the 33-year-old righty signed a deal with the Angels in late May. He hasn’t appeared in a major-league game this season, but he did make three starts in Triple-A. There, he pitched to a 4.02 ERA over 15 23 innings with ten strikeouts and three walks. While those numbers aren’t all that impressive, keep in mind that he was in the Pacific Coast League, which is known for its friendliness towards offense.

For a while, Fister was one of the most underrated starters in all of baseball, inducing plenty of weak contact in order to prevent runs. In fact, some of his most successful days came with the Tigers when Dave Dombrowski ran the show in Detroit. So, this is a reunion of sorts.

Those days are behind the righty, however. He made 32 starts with the Astros last season and did not impress. Over 180 13 innings in 2016 he pitched to a 4.62 ERA while striking out fewer than six batters per nine innings, walking more than three and allowing 24 homers in those 32 starts. As a depth piece the Red Sox could do worse, but don’t expect too much out of Fister at this point.

Yesterday, the Red Sox outrighted Kyle Kendrick off the 40-man roster, which cleared a 40-man spot that will not be occupied by Fister. There hasn’t been a moved announced to clear a spot on the active roster, but it seems logical that Velazquez will head back to Pawtucket and wait for a rotation spot to open up again. Presumably, Fister will be taking his start on Sunday.

Personally, I have a little more faith in Velazquez at this point, but it’s not a blowout in either direction. Picking up Fister allows the Red Sox to protect against another potential injury. We’ll keep you updated if/when the team announces its plan for when he will make his Red Sox debut.