The Houston Astros blindsided the baseball world announcing the signing of pitcher Doug Fister.
On the one hand the move isn't a surprise. The Astros see value in a pitcher that generates ground balls in the same vain as Dallas Keuchel. On the other, the move adds another right-handed pitcher to a rotation that already includes Colin McHugh, Lance McCullers, Scott Feldman, and Mike Fiers.
In a perfect world, the Los Angeles Dodgers wouldn't have been so bullish about Scott Kazmir's chances to stay healthy for three more years. Kazmir would slot right back into the Astros rotation to further balance things with another left-handed arm.
The move to bring in Fister isn't about balancing the rotation, it's about adding another major league arm to further extended the Astros depth at the starting pitcher position.
As noted by manager A.J. Hinch today at the Astros press conference, the Astros used a plethora of pitchers in 2015:
Hinch said they used 13 starting pitchers last year, so depth is key.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) January 28, 2016
Those 13 pitchers included Keuchel, McHugh, McCullers, Feldman, Fiers, Kazmir, Roberto Hernandez, Brett Oberholtzer, Vincent Velasquez, Dan Straily, Asher Wojciechowski, Sam Deduno, and Brad Peacock.
This move is to avoid starting the likes of journeyman starters Roberto Hernandez, Sam Deduno, and Brad Peacock. Avoiding starters that still have to again experience as major league starters like Asher Wojciechowski.
After two seasons where the Astros have relied on the services of Hernandez and Erik Bedard for a time, the rotation is now six men deep with major league ready, experienced, and above average starters. Houston will have a six-man rotation or five starter and an excellent option out of the bullpen.
No matter what happens with the Astros rotation, Fister will be slotted in the starting rotation come Opening Day. This level of depth will help make sure he's pitching when the playoff come knocking too.