Mike Fiers' first full season in Houston was a mixed bag, as he showed skills growth with an improved walk rate (2.2 BB/9) and the highest groundball rate of his big league career (42.2 percent), but struggled to keep the ball in the yard with the highest home-run rate (1.39 HR/9) he's had in any campaign as a pro. Little has changed with Fiers' arsenal, but his high-80s fastball, which is only effective when he's painting the corners of the strike zone, was hammered by opposing hitters to the tune of a .343 batting average against and a .653 slugging percentage against. By comparison, the opposition hit .246 with a .453 slugging percentage against Fiers' fastball in 2015, so he's shown an ability to get by without good velocity in the past. He may prove capable of shaving a half-run from his 2016 ERA, but expecting more than that level of improvement without a significant change to his pitch mix is a stretch.
Fiers allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out five across five innings, but received no decision Friday against the Rays. Fiers allowed single runs in each of the first three innings on three solo homers before settling down and ultimately leaving the game in a 3-3 tie. Although he had a strong outing in his first appearance of 2017, he's now had back-to-back rough starts to raise his ERA to 5.40. After posting in 4.48 ERA in 2016, the 31-year-old is becoming increasingly difficult to count on in shallower fantasy formats. He'll make his next start Saturday against the Athletics.
Fiers' next start will come April 21 against the Rays, Julia Morales of ROOT sports reports. Fiers was originally scheduled to start against the Angels on April 18, but Sunday's rainout means the Astros can hold off on starting him for a few extra days. The 31-year-old is off to a slow start this season, allowing six runs through 10.0 innings (two starts), but the Astros will need him (or another fifth starter) until early June with Colin McHugh out until around then.
Fiers allowed five runs on six hits and one walk while striking out five over four innings in Wednesday's 10-5 win over the Mariners. He did not factor into the decision. The game didn't begin well for Fiers, who walked Jarrod Dyson on four straight pitches -- he later scored. The right-hander then gave up home runs in the second and third innings, and by the time he left after four innings and 89 pitches (54 for strikes), the Astros were in a big five-run hole. His stay in the starting rotation had been expected to be a short one, but with Collin McHugh (elbow) shut down until the end of May, the Astros need Fiers, or some other fifth starter, until early June. His next scheduled start is April 18 at home against the Angels.
Fiers will likely get at least two turns in the big-league rotation, as Collin McHugh lasted just one inning in his rehab start Thursday, the Houston Chronicle's Jake Kaplan reports. McHugh gave up three runs on three hits and a walk and threw just 27 pitches for Triple-A Fresno, so he will need at least one more rehab outing. It is expected that Fiers will be the one to lose his spot in the rotation when McHugh is ready, but that is not set in stone. Fiers will make his first start of the season on Friday at home against the Royals.
Fiers allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and three walks whiles striking out five over 5.1 innings Wednesday against the Marlins. Fiers made his final spring tuneup before he toes the rubber in next Thursday's series opener against the Royals. He'll make at least one start while Collin McHugh builds up his pitch count in simulated and minor-league games over the next week. Once McHugh is ready to go, Fiers is the most likely starter to be pulled from the rotation.
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