WASHINGTON — Doug Fister's season-long quest for consistency will continue in the Washington Nationals' bullpen, perhaps the last place the right-hander figured to land after winning 16 games a year ago.
Fister was removed from the rotation Thursday after going 4-7 with a 4.60 ERA in 15 starts. The 31-year-old got the news three days after giving up three home runs in a 6-4 loss to Arizona.
It was a difficult conversation for Washington manager Matt Williams.
"It's honesty with him in letting him know what we're thinking and what we want to do for the remainder of the season," Williams said Friday. "It's not easy, but he handles it with professionalism, and told us he's ready to go whenever we need him. He is about winning baseball games and providing what he can to our team. So if that's out of the bullpen, so be it, he's ready to pitch on any given day at any time."
Fister has pitched in relief only three times in 170 games over seven years with Seattle, Detroit and Washington.
"It's not something you want to do, but I'm here to help the team win," he said. "Once I'm on the mound, I'm on the mound. It doesn't matter if it's starting the game or relieving. Once the ball's in my hand, it's time for business."
After going 16-6 in his first season with Washington, Fister signed a one-year contract for $11.4 million this past offseason. He's 1-4 in his last six starts and allowed at least four runs in four of those games.
But Fister insisted Friday that he's healthy and not too far from returning to form.
"My last outing I gave up the home runs, but I was a lot closer to being where I need to be," he said. "It's a matter of a handful of pitches versus half the game. Yeah, there's a couple hiccups here and there, but for the most part I feel right on track."