Rookie sensation Mike Fiers took one on the chin last night at Coors Field, in the worst way.
I mean, there’s just no way around it – the kid got beat like stole something. He went two innings, gave up eight earned runs and only struck out one batter. It only took two innings of high-altitude exposure to blow away what looked like unbeatable pitching (and indeed was unbeatable) in a hard-hitting 6-9 loss for the Crew.
But that’s OK. It needed to happen. I’ll tell you why.
No one really deserves to get hammered like that, but Mike Fiers – and Brewers fans, including us here at RtB – needed a little perspective. We all knew that he let off a staggering amount of fly ball outs. We all know how dangerous that can be. But we largely ignored it because, well, those fly balls always ended up in a Brewers’ glove. That was simply never going to happen in the thin Denver air.
The point here is that, while Mike Fiers is and will be a dominant pitcher for this Milwaukee rotation, he still needs some refining. He still needs to play the ball down more, and he needs more experience working himself out of a jam. These are the things – nerve, consistency, location, and composure – that need to live on long after your pitches start to lose their teeth.
Those are the things that Fiers need exposure to. He needs to learn how to battle his way out of a tough spot. He needs to know when to use restraint. He needs to be able to perform as well with men in scoring position as he does when they’re empty.
He needs to get beaten – he needed to get beaten badly. Everyone can handle a tough-luck loss. You go home, look at your performance, and it gives you confidence that the next time you go out and do the same thing, the runs will get there and you’ll get the win.
This is a different kind of loss. This is the kind of loss that can define a pitcher’s season. This is the kind of loss that sends high-school pitchers home crying. But when you get hit this hard, you better come back off the canvas throwing hay makers.
That’s what we need to see from Fiers – that bounce-back mentality that really makes the great pitchers great. We need to know that he can handle the hard losses as well as he handles the other lineups he faced.
It’ll be a few days for Mike Fiers to lick his wounds and get ready for the next bout. Here’s hoping that comes out swingin’.