How quickly newly acquired right-hander Doug Fister can join the Angels' rotation "is going to be contingent on how his stuff plays out," manager Mike Scioscia said on Saturday.
In other words: How quickly can Fister extend himself to about 90 to 100 pitches? And how good will he look once he does?
The Angels officially announced the signing of Fister on Saturday. He will technically be optioned to Class-A Inland Empire, though he won't actually join the team there. Instead, he'll start at the Angels' facility in Arizona then be sent to triple-A Salt Lake.
The Angels' ragtag rotation can use a proven, reliable arm. But a group of contingency starters has pitched well enough to keep the Angels from desperation.
Fister's progression is "up to him," general manager Billy Eppler said.
Fister owns a 3.60 earned-run average over eight seasons, though the 34-year-old's production dipped in his last two seasons. In 2016, he went 12-13 with a 4.64 ERA for the Astros.
The Angels' current rotation is vastly different than their ideal. Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano are all on the disabled list.
Yet their replacements have soldiered on with performances often usable, seldom dazzling. Angels starters carried a 3.98 ERA into Saturday's contest, ninth in the major leagues.
"Unfortunately, we've had to tap into them, and fortunately they've pitched at a level which has helped keep our heads above water," Scioscia said. "I think coming into the spring we all felt that we had more starting-rotation depth than we had last year. So I can't say that I'm shocked that we're pitching this well. We thought we could if we had to go this route, that we could be effective."
Fister, at the very least, should add another option, and one with more upside.
"If he throws the ball like he can, it's going to be important to our rotation," Scioscia said.
Pujols sits again
Albert Pujols was absent from the Angels' lineup for the second straight game as he nurses hamstring tightness.
Pujols took batting practice on Saturday, a sign of progress from Friday, but he was unavailable to pinch hit.
"He feels much better," Scioscia said. "He's going to hit out in the field today. Hopefully he'll progress."