The Brewers could use a veteran addition to their rotation. Could they bring back an old friend to do it?
Mike Fiers has had quite the eventful career. He came up with the Brewers after being drafted in the 22nd round in 2009, made his MLB debut in 2011 and was a regular member of the Crew’s pitching staff from 2012-2015.
His best seasons in a Brewers uniform were in 2012 and 2014, and was pitching well in 2015 when he was traded.
Fiers was packaged with Carlos Gomez and sent to the Houston Astros in exchange for four prospects, including Josh Hader. Fiers then proceeded to throw a no-hitter for the Astros, stayed there through their World Series “win” in 2017, then signed with Detroit, was traded to Oakland, threw a no-hitter there, and then blew the whistle on the Astros cheating scandal.
Fiers is 35 years old and has carved out a pretty nice career as a back-end starter with a pair of no-no’s to his name for a 22nd round draft pick. He’s a free agent again and perhaps the Brewers would like to take his career full circle.
Mike Fiers Back To Milwaukee?
The Brewers currently lack veterans on their pitching staff. The pitcher with the most big league service time is Brent Suter with less than four years. Everyone in the starting rotation has less than three years in the big leagues.
Brett Anderson filled the role of the veteran starter in 2020 for a $5MM price tag, and Fiers could provide similar production at a similar price. Fiers doesn’t walk many, and doesn’t strike out many either. But he does get outs, eat innings, and generally has an ERA in the upper 3s or low 4s. That’s the same as what Anderson did.
Mike Fiers could fill the 5th spot in the Brewers rotation behind Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser, and Josh Lindblom.
However, there are a couple of issues that make Fiers not a perfect fit. First, as a righty, adding Fiers would mean the Brewers wouldn’t have a LHP in their rotation in 2021. The Brewers have recently placed an importance on having southpaws on the staff.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, Fiers is a fly ball pitcher. Fly ball pitchers tend to not do well pitching in Miller Park due to their tendency to give up a large number of home runs.
To once again compare Fiers to Anderson, Anderson has gotten ground balls at a 56.8% clip over his career. Fiers, meanwhile, is at just 38.7% for his career. Anderson has only had about 25% of balls in play hit in the air off him, while Fiers is near 40% for his career.
Given the hitter-friendly nature of American Family Field, that’s not exactly an ideal switch. It might be a cool story to bring Fiers back, but it makes more baseball sense for the Brewers to go in a different direction.
The Brewers could be just fine without making a rotation addition this offseason, but there’s still a good chance they make a move at some point.