The Red Sox's season will be on the line, too, as they find themselves in an 0-2 hole as they return home.
Fister follows Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz in Boston's ALDS rotation, and he beat out last year's AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, for the honor, as well as talented left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.
Rodriguez (6-7, 4.19 ERA) and Porcello (11-17, 4.65) will be available out of the bullpen for the first two games of the series, and both are candidates to pitch Game 4 (if necessary) on Monday. Sale is also a possibility for Game 4 on three days' rest.
• Gear up for Red Sox's postseason
Rodriguez is the second lefty in Boston's bullpen in this series, joining David Price, who was converted to a reliever after coming back from his second left elbow injury of the season.
Why Fister over Porcello for Game 3?
"To me, the later action to the stuff," said Farrell. "A little bit more consistent sink, a little bit more separation between sinker and curveball , that's probably what it came down to, in addition to some performance and recognizing that guys have pitched well in certain spots and there's been some challenges mixed in for both. Felt like that was the way to go."
In eight career playoff starts, Fister is 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA. Porcello is 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA in three postseason starts.
As far as a potential Game 4, Farrell is keeping his options open. Farrell's willingness to bring Sale back for that game would depend on how many pitches he throws in Game 1, and where the series stands heading into that game.
Porcello is more likely to start Game 4 than Rodriguez.
"Wait and see how things unfold," Farrell said. "[Porcello] will be in the bullpen the first two nights, for sure, providing length if needed and available for Game 4 depending on what transpires."
Picked up off waivers on June 23 after he was released by the Angels a month earlier, Fister did not make his 2017 big league debut until June 25. He ended up making 18 appearances (15 starts) for Boston, going 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA and providing valuable insurance for a rotation that dealt with injuries for a good chunk of the season.