When the Brewers called up Mike Fiers from AAA Nashville on May 28, most assumed it was with the sole intention of holding the starting rotation over until the return of Marco Estrada from the disabled list.
Now, nine starts and a 2.01 ERA later, the 27-year-old right hander is making his case for the best pitcher on the team in that time frame; since his debut on May 29 in Los Angeles, only Ryan Braun has a higher WAR than Fiers (1.8). The rookie has surrendered only two runs in his last 32 2/3 innings of work, spanning five starts plus one relief appearance.
Monday night’s start versus St. Louis ranks among not only Fiers’ most impressive outing this season, but among all Brewers starters. He held the top offense in the National League scoreless over seven innings without his “best stuff”. Normally showing great command, he walked four but stranded all eight base runners. He was sneaky with his upper-80s fastball and put batters away with a curve on a night with a questionable strike zone.
With the almost-certain departure of Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf and the possible movement of Zack Greinke, two or three rotation spots will be open to begin next season. Fiers, despite the unheralded call-up, has more than proven himself to be a capable big league starter.
Yovani Gallardo appears to be the only lock to return to the rotation next season. The future of the rotation looks promising with Fiers, Tyler Thornburg, Wily Peralta, and 2011 first rounders Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley on the horizon. With all that talent, odds are more than two of them will make a splash in the MLB soon.
Fiers’ 2.01 ERA ranks third in the NL among pitchers with at leats 50 innings pitched. He should have a 6-2 record instead of his current 3-3 mark, but the team has been shut out twice, scored only two runs three times, and had a 2-0 victory spoiled last night by John Axford.
In his eight starts, Fiers has had a Game Score of over 60 six times, including two scores of over 70. By comparison, Randy Wolf has three scores of higher than 56 all season.
Brewers management and the fans are realizing that this Fiers kid can pitch. We look forward to seeing number 64 and his deceptive delivery, stellar fastball command (9.4 wFB in 2012), and curveball near the top of the rotation in 2013 and beyond.
After Monday’s scoreless outing against, Fiers told reporters, “I’m just enjoying it right now.”
Well, kid, you better get used to this feeling.