It's not terribly surprising that a Detroit Tigers starting pitcher set an American League record by recording nine straight strikeouts yesterday against the Kansas City Royals. That it was Doug Fister, rather than K mavens Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer, is shocking. Fister didn't throw a single pitch over 92 MPH while coming within one K of tying Tom Seaver's all-time record, relying upon superb command to fan K.C.'s entire lineup.
Check out Fister's pitch location on his nine consecutive Ks. He went high, low, inside and outside, straddling the corners and avoiding the fat part of the plate:
Fister caught six Royals looking during that sequence -- all of them on four or two-seam fastballs. His K rate has spiked to a career-best 7.7 per nine innings pitched this season thanks in part to his ability to freeze hitters with two strikes. Fister trails just David Price among AL starting pitchers in looking strikeouts:
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Just like he did in yesterday's start, Fister has racked up looking strikeouts this season on pitches thrown to the corners. The six-foot-eight righty is especially fond of tossing glove-side pitches that catch the edge of the plate:
Location of Fister's looking strikeouts in 2012
While Fister will never be confused with Verlander or Scherzer, he has improved his K rate from Kirk Reuter-esque levels (4.9 K/9 during his first full season with the Mariners in 2010) to the point where he easily bests the 7 K/9 average for AL starting pitchers this season. Power stuff misses bats, but Fister proves that quality command can also induce lots of Ks. Just ask the Royals.