Fister has been a pleasant surprise for Tigers

Fister has been a pleasant surprise for Tigers

PITTSBURGH -- Manager Jim Leyland knew he was getting a good pitcher when Detroit acquired Doug Fister from Seattle last year at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

He just didn't know Fister -- who started against Pittsburgh on Friday -- was going to be that good.

"We liked him," Leyland said. "We liked him a lot, but I didn't expect him to do what he did. I'd be lying if I said that. I don't think anybody expected that."

Fister spent the final three months of the 2011 season with the Tigers. Over that time the right-hander went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA and averaged 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

Fister's numbers have dropped off a bit in 2012, and he's already made two visits to the 15-day disabled list. He was most recently activated on June 16, for a start against Colorado.

Facing the Rockies at home, Fister allowed three hits in six innings of shutout ball, picking up his first win of the year and dropping his ERA to 2.68.

Leyland sees Fister as part of his "big four" starting pitchers, the other three being Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

"If our 'big four' gives us a chance to win on most nights," Leyland said, "we'll end up having a real good year."