by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Starting pitcher Doug Fister has been on a tremendous tear for the Washington Nationals, winning six of his last seven outings, averaging 1.28 earned runs in those efforts.

On the season, he’s been the Nationals most steady starter — even after missing the first month of the 2014 season — with a 12-3 overall record, 2.34 ERA (better than his 3.39 career ERA) and a 1.066 WHIP in 17 starts.

In an interview with The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan on Thursday, Fister was asked for the one stat he cares about the most, and his response was that of a consummate professional.

“You know, honestly for me, my approach every day, every fifth day: I have to find a way to go out there to find 21 outs and keep our guys in the ballgame,” Fister said.

“If I can keep under 2 runs — I think 3 is too many — if I can keep under two runs and find 21 outs, that’s my job. If I can get more than 21 outs, if I can get past the seventh inning, then that’s awesome,” he said. “Then I figure the pitcher’s doing his job right. But I have to get those 21 outs. If I don’t, I don’t feel like I was completely successful that day. We may get the win, and it kind of erases everything from the time, because that’s the most important thing.”

While Fister is averaging 6.54 innings per outing, he’s given 7 innings and 2 runs or less on 10 separate occasions, so more often than not, he’s left the field feeling completely successful this season.

“Our team has to go out there, we have to do the little things and come out on top,” Fister added, before declaring the team’s intentions in 2014. “That’s our goal. We’re trying to get to the World Series and win it this year. We have to do that by taking each day at its best and trying to win.”

As consistent as Fister has been, his teammate Stephen Strasburg has been equally inconsistent, suffering from a seemingly split personality in starts at home versus starts on the road.

At home, Strasburg is 7-2 with a 2.41 ERA with 14 bases on balls in 86 innings over 13 games.

On the road, Strasburg is 1-8 with a 5.25 ERA with 21 walks in 70.1 innings over 12 games.

Whether he’s home or away doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to giving up home runs, which he’s done 18 times this season: 7 at home and 11 away.

Asked to help decipher such indecipherable home-road splits, Fister offered more of his own approach, which perhaps speaks to Strasburg’s trouble avoiding giving up the long ball.

“I’ve always been aware and taught that, you know what, a typical Major League Baseball game comes down to probably two pitches,” Fister said. “The difference between a win and a loss is somewhere in between two pitches.”

“There’s a critical point in that game where it makes sense that you have to hit that pitch,” he said. “Well, all of a sudden, one pitch later, now it starts to snowball, and all of a sudden either you’re winning or losing by a lot. There’s certain times where that critical point comes into play, and he’s been very, very good. Unfortunately, there’s been times where that critical point comes, and we give up too many hits or he goes out there and he pitches well, and may not get the run support on the return.”

Fister himself has given up 11 home runs this season, 3 of which came in his first start of the season from which he was pulled after 4.1 innings pitched.

“It’s just kind of the game, I think it’s a big learning process for him,” Fister went on. “And he’s right in the middle of that learning process, and for him, that’s going to be one of the most beneficial learning processes ever. If he can come out of having this little bit of a rough time on top, and really kind of knowing what it’s gonna take for him to really excel and succeed, I think it’s gonna be just tremendous for him in the future.

“I think it’s gonna teach him what pitches to throw when; it’s gonna teach him, ‘You know what? Screw you, I’ve got 95 in the tank. I’m gonna come inside and pitch and keep you off-balance, and then all of a sudden you don’t know if I’m gonna throw a curveball or if I’m gonna go back to my 95, if I’m gonna throw a changeup.

“He’s got such great stuff. He’s just got an amazing amount of talent that he has at his fingertips and he’s starting to realize it, and really starting to execute it, and I think that’s gonna be great for him.”

As for those lofty World Series goals, the Nationals are currently 65-53 with a 5-game divisional lead on the Atlanta Braves, with 44 games to play, and guys are having career years all over the field, an anomaly the Nationals last saw in 2012. So, who knows?


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