Results tagged ‘ Mike Fiers ’
Can you believe that we’re sitting here on August 1st already? The season is two-thirds gone (wait…weren’t we just entering the “second half” two weeks ago? I keed, I keed.) and despite the Brewers lack of success in posting W’s it still seems to be flying by.
About that light Wins column though, that and plenty of other things have been more than enough to make some of the staunchest Brewers supporters yearn for fake football games to get underway. (Yes, a four-game preseason is second only to the Pro Bowl in pointlessness.)
This post, however, is intended as the start of a series of items about which Brewers fans and baseball-first fans can still anticipate and appreciate.
Today we sit on August 1, exactly one month away from the first topic that brought this series into my mind: September call-ups.
A little explanation for more casual readers first. On any given day (except for scheduled doubleheaders) a team’s Major League or “active” roster can have a maximum of 25 players available on it. They can be any combination of positions or any other way you choose to categorize the members. Now normally those up-to-15 players are assigned to various minor league affiliates of a parent club to play games daily. (I’m not going to get into ways that players don’t count against the 40-man limit or option years in this space.)
However, a codicil kicks in on September 1 whereas any player on the 40-man roster can be active for a Major League game. This period of time, give or take one month calendar month, is utilized in a handful of ways. Contending teams can bring up a couple of specialists to bolster their team. Maybe a pinch-runner or an extra lefty for the bullpen as two examples.
For teams like Milwaukee this season, however, the time is often used to get some players a little exposure to big league life, games, clubhouse, travel, etc and to see how they stack up in games against MLB-quality opponents. Many a player has made his debut in “the show” during September.
So, back to this season. How does this affect the Brewers? Well, plenty of players have already made their MLB debuts for Milwaukee already this season. Any of those could come back up to finish out the season. There are a number of others who haven’t yet debuted and also a couple of players (like the recently added Rob Wooten, and non-debuted Kyle Heckathorn) who the Brewers need to decide whether to protect from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. They could add someone to the roster for September to help them arrive at a decision.
Here are some names in groups with a little extra commentary…
Healthy players currently in the minors but who have spent time with Milwaukee this season:
Josh Prince, Sean Halton, Johnny Hellweg, Hiram Burgos, Blake Lalli
Healthy players on 40-man who haven’t yet been up this season:
Jesus Sanchez, Michael Olmsted, Ariel Peña, Santo Manzanillo
The Brewers have one spot currently open on the 40-man but could easily open another by moving Mike Fiers to the 60-day DL, for example. The Brewers may also have their hand forced on one spot should Mark Rogers return to health before season’s end.
The point being: Doug Melvin has some room to maneuver and get glimpses. That is something to look forward to. After all, given the results this season it’s all about the future at this point.
So you’ve seen the moves (as listed here) but what do they all mean for the individual players involved?
First the easy one.
Alex Gonzalez will be unconditionally released through the waiver system. He wasn’t getting the job done at the plate and his defense didn’t continue to progress the way that the team had hoped back in Spring Training. He does have one W to his credit this season though. His two-run double against A.J. Burnett in the game the Brewers won 2-1 back on May 24th.
Second up is Mike Fiers. He was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. What does that mean? He’ll start for the Sounds as he looks to regain his confidence which manager Ron Roenicke said was noticably absent from his recent outings. Despite having more success as a relief pitcher this year, he has experience starting successfully so the Brewers will certainly give him an opportunity to contribute in a place where they lack ready depth.
Moving into that spot in the rotation will be Alfredo Figaro. Figaro was a starter in Japan for the last two seasons along with much of his minor league career. Figaro had a spot start last week against the Minnesota Twins.
Now for the moves that resulted in new pieces on the big league roster.
Third baseman Juan Francisco, 25, is a 6’2″, 240 lb Dominican who was acquired via trade following his having been designated for assignment by the Atlanta Braves. Once being touted as having the potential to be their “Pablo Sandoval”, Francisco didn’t hit for much average in Atlanta and was the expendable piece when the Braves needed an extra arm called up for the bullpen.
Hopefully the Braves’ discard is the Brewers’ treasure. Doug Melvin told the media that the plan is to start Francisco at first base, something that he, while not having much experience doing it, is willing to do. After all, Brewers’ 1B this season have combined to slash .193/.229/.288 so far. That’s putrid. Francisco posted a .241/.287/.398 slash line himself. He is a left-handed bat though and will help balance out the lineup to a degree when he plays.
And finally, the clamoring has been answered as Doug Melvin recalled second baseman Ryan “Scooter” Gennett from the minor leagues. Scooter’s addition accomplishes two things right away. It finally gives the Brewers a full bench of hitters but also allows for a soft platoon at the keystone with the incumbent and favored lightning rod Rickie Weeks.
Gennett bats left-handed and again offers some lineup balance on days he starts. More over, it allows Roenicke to pick and choose his match ups for Weeks even more finely and really get the veteran in there on days which he should benefit in an effort to continue to build upon his mild resurgence over the past week plus.
So there you have it. Weeks and Gennett will somewhat platoon at second for the time being. It won’t be a strict Gennett vs RHP and Weeks vs LHP all the time. Francisco will start a lot at first base with Yuniesky Betancourt as his soft platoon partner and primary back up. Jeff Bianchi become the primary back up for shortstop and some combination of he, Betancourt and Francisco will back up Ramirez at third. And Figaro takes over in the rotation for the demoted Fiers.
Send Minor League Pitcher Thomas Keeling to the Braves
—– Infielder Alex Gonzalez Released; Infielder Scooter Gennett Recalled; Pitcher Mike Fiers Optioned —–
The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired third baseman Juan Francisco from Atlanta for left-handed minor-league pitcher Thomas Keeling. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
Francisco, 25, is a career .254 hitter with 19 HR and 77 RBI in 209 games with Cincinnati (2009-11) and Atlanta (2012-13). He batted .241 (26-for-108) with 5 HR and 16 RBI in 35 games this season with the Braves, making 31 starts (29g at 3B, 2g at DH). He was designated for assignment on May 30. Francisco will wear uniform #21 and is expected to report to the team tomorrow.
Keeling, 25, was selected by Milwaukee in the 18th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He was 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA and 1 save in 17 relief appearances at Double-A Huntsville this season.
In other transactions, the team has asked for waivers for the purpose of the unconditional release on infielder Alex Gonzalez, who batted .177 (20-for-113) with 1 HR and 8 RBI in 41 games this season with the Brewers, making 27 starts (16g at 1B, 9g at 3B, 2g at SS). In addition, second baseman Scooter Gennett has been recalled from Triple-A Nashville (50g, .297, 1hr, 13rbi, 8sb). He will make his Major League debut and wear uniform #2. To make room for Gennett on the 25-man roster, right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers was optioned to Nashville.
If only because we’ve had a day off to hopefully unwind, here’s a recap of what we learned this week as it relates to the roster, lineup, rotation and injuries…
Playing it safe
Kyle Lohse was officially scratched from his next scheduled start with what was described as “elbow irritation” by the team. They said it was minor, that they aren’t worried and that Lohse is penciled in to make a start against Minnesota next week. However, and understandably regardless of what they said, Lohse underwent a precautionary MRI to determine whether there was any structural damage to the elbow. It was reported that the elbow is “structurally sound” but that the areas of inflammation causing the irritation are not to be messed with. So after pitching with this ailment for a couple of starts, rest has become a necessity. Lohse has been the Brewers best starting pitcher so far this season. Whatever it takes to get him back on the field quickly must be done. After all, they can’t afford (financially or performance-wise) for things to get to the worst-case scenario.
Back on the front burner
As for the short term, that missed start — Saturday against the Pirates — will be made instead by Mike Fiers. Fiers has pitched in relief since rejoining the Brewers almost two weeks ago but was starting down in the minors after having been optioned due to ineffectiveness. Fiers began the season in Milwaukee’s rotation but was moved to the bullpen and eventually sent down after just one start. So much like last season, Fiers gets his second chance filling in for a pitcher with a balky elbow. Hopefully though Lohse will only miss one start unlike Shaun Marcum last year who missed many more than that.
Batting practice, running part of a Hart healthy diet
Speaking of missing a lot of time, we got an update on another Brewer on the comeback trail from injury, Corey Hart. Hart was recently cleared to run without restriction and began taking light batting practice and fielding grounders hit right at him. If he continues to respond well the target right now is for him to begin a rehab assignment in roughly 10 days from right now. It was also reported that Hart will make the next road trip with the Brewers to continue preparations for that assignment. It’ll be a long enough rehab stint to hopefully have Hart firing on all cylinders when he returns.
Injured southpaws on the mend
It was learned that Tom Gorzelanny threw live batting practice this week and could return to the roster as early as tonight. (Stay tuned!) The bullpen has been pitching very well lately despite his absence but before hitting the DL with shoulder tendinitis Gorzelanny was pitching key innings for manager Ron Roenicke.
Chris Narveson has also begun to throw as he rehabs the sprained middle finger on his pitching hand. Narveson may throw live batting practice prior to tonight’s game and be sent out on rehab assignment soon.
If you’re asking me, I’d be shocked if Narveson doesn’t ramp back up to start despite his initial role this season having been as a reliever. After all, the team said that part of the reason Narveson was in the bullpen to start the year was to limit his innings coming off of shoulder surgery. It’ll be mid-June before he’s back. He’s missed plenty of innings.
Catching up on some items I haven’t blogged about but had more to say about them than just tweeting the blurbs, and then some thoughts about tonight’s lineup in Pittsburgh and what its impact could be.
Cue the puns. Puns for the win!
Stoking the Fiers -or- Tom’s Not Feeling So Terrific
Mike Fiers was recalled from the minor leagues — where he had been optioned on April 18th — to fill a spot in the bullpen vacated by LHP Tom Gorzelanny who succumbed to shoulder tendinitis in his pitching arm. Gorzelanny has been working a lot so far this year as he has been used in everything from LOOGy-friendly spots to straight set up duties. Gorzelanny had pitched 18 times in the first 31 team games, including back-to-back days on four occasions, but never three-in-a-row.
Fiers came back amid a sad familial situation which was documented in numerous places (including here by Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy) and needn’t be rehashed here, though you should read it if you haven’t already. Fiers returned to a bullpen in desperate need of some innings covereage after consecutive short starts by Yovani Gallardo and Hiram Burgos in Cincinnati. He was stretched back out in the minors pitching for both Nashville and Brevard County and offers immediate relief in the long-man division.
Gorzelanny’s injury leaves Michael Gonzalez as the lone healthy left-handed pitcher in the Brewers’ bullpen, after they began the year with three (also Chris Narveson).
Konclusion Soon for K-Rod
Francisco Rodriguez was signed to a minor-league contract back on April 17th (read more on that here) and, as part of the agreement, began a 30-day evaluation period after which the Brewers would have to make a determination on whether they will add him to the 25-man roster.
Well, that deadline is rapidly approaching and to that end, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is in Nashville tonight and tomorrow to watch K-Rod pitch. He’ll be looking for a return to something more closely resembling Rodriguez’ 2011 form rather than what he brought to the mound far too often in 2012.
The question though is simple. Can Rodriguez help this team win?
If he can, he’ll be here soon and then the decision is who heads back down to the minors. Given the situation, it wouldn’t shock me if it was Fiers so long as Figaro is rested between now and then and there are no more critically short starts between now and then. But in order to maintain length in the ‘pen and utilize options available, it could be Kintzler down for a short stint if necessary.
Braun and Weeks Sit, Probably Discuss Love, Life, Longballs
Ryan Braun is apparently dealing with a bit of a stiff neck again, similar to the injury that kept him out of the entire Arizona Diamondbacks series the first week of April. Though while it’s a similar injury, it’s not nearly to the severity now as it was then. Braun has been playing with it for a few games and just needed a day off to help rest it.
I would have to certainly hope he didn’t tweak it while helping several others in lifting a wall during a Habitat For Humanity “Blitz Build” event last week. Manager Ron Roenicke stated that Braun didn’t injure himself on the field though, so the charitable activity remains a possible cause.
As for Weeks, fans and media alike have been clamoring for Weeks to get (at least) a day to clear his head and hopefully allow him to get back to doing what his talent says he should be able to do. Weeks though is the kind of guy who will never go the manager and ask for a day off or accept if Roenicke offers a day off. Weeks told the media today that Roenicke has to just sit him if Roenicke thinks Weeks needs a break. Roenicke wanted to get Weeks out yesterday against long-time nemesis Bronson Arroyo but couldn’t. Weeks isn’t significantly better against A.J. Burnett, who pitched for Pittsburgh tonight, so it was another opportunity which Roenicke utilized.
Hopefully Weeks can make the most of it and break back out at the dish. In a pinch-hitting appearance tonight, Weeks struck out swinging off of a left-handed reliever.
As for filling out the lineup without Weeks and Braun, as I stated on my Monday segment on The Mike Heller Show on The Big 920 & The Big 1070 AM radio stations in Milwaukee and Madison, I liked moving Gomez up to 3 as it kept him in an RBI role. Beyond that, the bottom half of the lineup was a crapshoot. Betancourt and Lucroy both finished without a hit so the order mattered even less tonight than it otherwise would.
Still, the Brewers look to continue their success against Pittsburgh regardless of where they play as they work to get back into the win column and make something out of this road trip.
Following Saturday evening’s victory over the Chicago Cubs, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was noncommittal at best to his immediate plans for the starting rotation.
That’s understandable to a degree because while Hiram Burgos pitched very well against the Cubs, the Brewers don’t need a fifth starting pitcher again until next Tuesday, April 30 back home against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park.
We know that both Roenicke and his pitching coach Rick Kranitz prefer to use scheduled off-days as a way to help their starting pitchers get extra rest with the goal of staying healthier and however fresher into the summer. We also know that Yovani Gallardo in particular prefers to pitch on regular rest whenever possible. Though I haven’t the others involved, chances are good that they appreciate routine in kind.
Roenicke gets the final call though, and his decision regarding how his rotation will line up over the next couple of weeks does have impact. Obviously, Roenicke realizes this which is why he said that they are considering match-ups and their days off when determining how to proceed.
There are two main scenarios to be considered with some variables involved.
Scenario 1: Burgos remains in 5-man rotation, off-day ignored
-Variable 1: Burgos next start on 4/26
-Variable 2: Burgos next start on 4/28
Scenario 2: Fifth starter not used until April 30th
– Variable 1: Burgos will make that start, pitch in bullpen until then
– Variable 2: Someone else will make that start with Burgos being optioned to minors to stay on schedule and someone filling a bullpen role between now and then.
The fallout from Scenario 1, Variable 1 is twofold. First, it means that Lohse and Gallardo will continue to pitch consecutively for now. That’s probably something that Roenicke would have done anyway had Lohse been in camp all spring. Second, Burgos will follow Estrada in turn which could result in similar pitchers back-to-back but basically asks Burgos to pitch over his head in some match-ups.
In this, Burgos’ next three opponents are the Dodgers, Pirates, and Rangers. He would be the one SP to miss the Cardinals series at the beginning of May. Gallardo faces the Cardinals in either scenario, for what it’s worth.
Variable 2 for Scenario 1 allows the rotation to reorder itself back to how it was coming out of spring. Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Lohse, and now Burgos as the fifth SP. Here, Burgos faces the Dodgers and Cardinals for sure.
Scenario 2 gives us the following match-ups. Burgos gets Pittsburgh on 4/30, St. Louis on 5/5, and then there are off-days on both sides of the Texas two-step series on May 7 & 8 to negotiate again and determine the value of a fifth starter taking his turn.
I’d have to think that Roenicke will skip the fifth starter around the Rangers series because if he simply goes with extra rest, everybody will have six days off between starts instead of the usual four.
So there are the scenarios and some of their resultant impact. So I ask you, Brewer Nation, if you were in charge which timeline do you think will produce the best outcome?
Following today’s matinee against the San Francisco Giants (a 7-2 victory capping off a series sweep of the defending World Series Champions, by the by) the Brewers executed a roster transaction.
It was announced that Mike Fiers was optioned to the Nashville Sounds and that a replacement would be on his way to join the parent club but who it was would be announced later.
Let’s tackle this aspect of the move first. Fiers, who looked rough around the edges in Cactus League play this year, hasn’t had his fastball command at all yet this regular season. In his three appearances — one start, two out of the bullpen — Fiers only pitched 7.1 innings, allowing seven earned runs on two walks and 11 hits, including two home runs. His ERA was 8.59, he had a 1.773 WHIP, and his FIP was 7.18.
In short, he was a mess.
The demotion comes at an appropriate time for Fiers, though not just because of his numbers. Going down to Nashville will allow Fiers the opportunity to work on finding his command in a game setting. He already told the media that the plan is for him to start on Saturday for the Sounds, and since he’ll have to be down for a minimum of 10 days, he’ll get at least two starts at the Triple-A level even if they’d want to recall him immediately when he’s eligible.
The timing of the move, though a touch surprising on the surface, is actually very well thought out. By sending Fiers down today instead of waiting until Saturday to make the move, Fiers would be eligible to return before the Brewers next need a fifth starter, which is April 30th. Had the team waited until the 20th to make the move, that wouldn’t have been the case.
The other thing its does is it allows for the recalled minor leaguer to join the team on Friday, get acclimated for the clubhouse and stadium a little bit, and then feel just that much more at ease with his surroundings before making his major league debut on Saturday.
So that was a hint, and here it is:
(For background on Burgos’ career up to the start of the 2013 regular season, click here for my “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” profile from way back on Valentine’s Day.)
So far this season, Burgos has mostly kept it going. In three starts for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, the right-hander sports a 2.70 ERA, in 16.2 innings. He’s recorded 15 strikeouts and allowed just 11 hits though also seven walks. Still, Burgos’ WHIP is a sparkling 1.08. Burgos has allowed three home runs already, for what it’s worth.
Still, Saturday’s game should be a bit of an event at Miller Park. There will be a lot of “firsts” for Burgos, and I’ll enjoy seeing them all in person.
Good luck, Hiram! In honor of your first MLB start, the Brewers arranged to have you face a handful of Triple-A hitters on Saturday.
Following today’s final exhibition game (a victory over the Chicago White Sox), the Milwaukee Brewers announced their 25-man roster for Opening Day.
Here is the breakdown by position.
- John Axford
- Burke Badenhop
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers
- Alfredo Figaro
- Yovani Gallardo
- Michael Gonzalez
- Tom Gorzelanny
- Jim Henderson
- Brandon Kintzler
- Kyle Lohse
- Chris Narveson
- Wily Peralta
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
- Alex Gonzalez
- Yuniesky Betancourt
- Aramis Ramirez
- Jean Segura
- Rickie Weeks
- Norichika Aoki
- Ryan Braun
- Khris Davis
- Carlos Gomez
- Logan Schafer
The Brewers will also be carrying four (4) players on the big league 15-day disabled list to begin the season (Jeff Bianchi, Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Mark Rogers) and one (1) on the 60-day DL (Mat Gamel).
Special congratulations go out to Alfredo Figaro, Mike Fiers, Jim Henderson, Jean Segura, Khris Davis, Wily Peralta, Martin Maldonado, and Logan Schafer who are all making their first Opening Day MLB roster!
Recorded last night over dinner and during a fantasy baseball draft, my podcast partner Cary Kostka and I get you ready for Opening Day!
We discuss the 25-man roster projection, lineup for Opening Day, rotation, Kyle Lohse, Yuniesky Betancourt and more!
Click here to download the podcast: Brewer Nation Podcast – 2013 Opening Day Preparedness
What a day!
Brewers On Deck happened today at the MidFronDelta Center in downtown Milwaukee. We were up early and over there pretty quickly in order to take in the sights and sounds of the shifting out of neutral by a good chunk of Brewers fandom — nearly 12,000 fans came out a number hampered by the threat of freezing rain.
I’ll write up my On Deck review tomorrow (complete with pictures) but tonight I sit down to profile an important piece to the 2013 plans for the Milwaukee Brewers…
Just in case you only very recently started following the team, allow me to get the basics out of the way. Michael Bruce Fiers is a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher from Florida. He was drafted by the Brewers in the 22nd round of the 2009 First-Year Player draft out of Nova Southeastern University. He stands 6’3″ and is listed at 195 pounds.
He made his Major League debut in a relief role on September 14, 2011. He pitched in two games with Milwaukee that year, throwing 2.0 scoreless innings.
Fiers began 2011 at a bit of a crossroads. He was assigned to the Double-A Huntsville Stars and pitched out of the bullpen initially. After not starting a single game in 2009, Fiers started 19 of 27 games in 2010 and only 18 of 34 games in 2011. So doing a bit of both was certainly the norm for Fiers in his career to that point.
With the Stars in 2011, Fiers made his first 14 appearances of the 2012 regular season out of the bullpen. He then was promoted to the Class Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds where he made a pair of relief appearances before being sent back down to Huntsville to work as a starting pitcher. His final relief appearance was on May 24th and his first start was May 27th.
Fiers would make 18 minor league starts over all (including 10 with Nashville). His ERA out of the bullpen as a relief pitcher was 4.34 before the switch to starting. By the time he was promoted to Milwaukee his ERA was whittled all the way down to 1.86. He only allowed 17 earned runs in those 18 starts.
In 2012 as a result, Fiers pitched exclusively in the rotation. He was assigned to Triple-A Nashville out of Spring Training and made 10 starts for the Sounds before injuries would necessitate a promotion to The Show in late May. Marco Estrada — who had joined the Brewers’ rotation when Chris Narveson tore his shoulder — strained his quadriceps muscle while running out a base hit in a game. Now down two starting pitchers, Doug Melvin dipped into the minor leagues and tapped Fiers.
All Fiers did from May 29th thru August 7th was make 12 starts (and one emergency relief appearance), post an ERA of 1.80, strike out 80 opposing hitters in 79 IP.
There was talk of Fiers as a darkhorse candidate for National League Rookie of the Year consideration, but there was also guarded optimism of people wanting to see more before they would anoint Fiers as a savior.
As has been the case with many starting pitchers, Coors Field offered Fiers first blow up start. He allowed eight earned runs in 2.0 innings and his ERA ballooned up nearly a full run. Quite a feat by that point in the year.
Fiers would post two more Quality Starts after that and another of 5.0 innings of 1-run ball, but he struggled late in the year to be certain. Speculation came from all sides but most of it boiled down to whether Fiers had simply worn down from the increase in innings.
Still, after all the issues following August 7th, Fiers still posted admirable full season numbers including a 3.74 ERA, 135 K and just 36 walks in 127.2 IP.
Entering 2013, Fiers stands to have an impact role with the Brewers from day one (well, day three or four really). He looks ready to contribute for a full season out the starting rotation, a job the Brewers will need him to perform well at in order to contend.
The taxation of bullpen certainly didn’t help its collective woes and in order to avoid a similar fate, the starting pitching will simply have to go deeper into games more often this season. For his part, Fiers had seven starts of at least 7.o IP and another seven of at least 6.0 IP.
Fiers’ deceptive delivery helps him maintain success but he simply must have his control and command on a given day in order to avoid meltdowns. He had it much more often than not in 2012. The Brewers must hope he produces to the high level again in this new year.
I think he’s up to the challenge, personally. Spring Training is where he’ll get back to that command. He’ll do it there with the #64 emblazoned on his jersey and in 64 more days (from Sunday, January 27th) he’ll ride into Opening Day at Miller Park with the same #64.
You can follow Mike Fiers on Twitter: @Fiers64