Don’t blink when Doug Fister is on the mound.
Houston Astros teammate Carlos Gomez said you’re likely to miss a third of an inning.
The Merced native pitches with crisp, quiet efficiency, a nice contrast to his imposing 6-foot-8 frame. It’s exactly what the Astros wanted when they signed the 32-year-old veteran to a one-year contract in the offseason.
The Golden Valley High School and Merced College alum has solidified the back end of a young rotation. On Wednesday, he pitched seven sharp innings in a 7-0 victory over the Oakland A’s. In 19 starts, the right-hander has a team-high 13 quality starts – three or fewer runs allowed over at least six complete innings.
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Not surprisingly, the Astros are 13-6 in his starts, including 12-3 since the start of May.
I want my team to know it can go out and lean on me every fifth day. My consistency is my biggest goal throughout the year, and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job with that so far.
“He’s a guy that comes to play every day to help us win,” Gomez said. “We never played together before, but he’s one of my favorite guys. He’s the kind of guy that if you make an error in the outfield, he’ll look at you and be like, ‘I got you.’ We’ll get a double play and get out of the inning.
“I love playing behind a guy like that.”
Fister again displayed his trademark efficiency Wednesday. In front of a large group of family and friends from Merced, the eight-year veteran threw arguably his best game this season. He allowed no runs and four hits, walked two and struck out five , throwing 100 pitches and improving to 10-6.
Fister clearly is comfortable pitching close to home. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts in Oakland.
“There were quite a few people I know in the stands, so it was kind of a welcome home,” Fister said. “It was good. I go home as much as I can when we’re here, and I sleep in my own bed. It’s always a warm welcome to see my family and get a little recharge, so these trips are pretty relaxing.”
A healthy season also has helped put Fister at ease. He has yet to miss a start in 2016 and is on pace to crack 200 innings and 30 starts for just the third time.
“I spent a lot of time in the offseason training to try and stay healthy,” Fister said. “But mainly, I just want to go out and be consistent. I want my team to know it can go out and lean on me every fifth day. My consistency is my biggest goal throughout the year, and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job with that so far.”
The numbers back it up. Fister leads the Astros in wins and ERA (3.42) and is second in innings (118 1/3 ). Manager A.J. Hinch had nothing but praise for Fister. .
There were quite a few people I know in the stands, so it was kind of a welcome home. It was good. I go home as much as I can when we’re here, and I sleep in my own bed. It’s always a warm welcome to see my family and get a little recharge, so these trips are pretty relaxing.
Doug Fister, on family and friends from Merced attending Wednesday’s game in Oakland
“I thought he did a great job,” Hinch said. “He put up zeros while we let them hang in there a little bit. We made him pitch a few extra batters here and there. We had some trouble with the sun and had an error in there, but all in all, Doug made pitches when he needed to. He continues to work efficiently fast and gets us in and out of innings.
“He’s pitched well here. He has some confidence against these guys, but more than anything, I think it’s about execution. When he executes, it really doesn’t matter what lineup faces him.”