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 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.
Fiers, who is competing with Joe Musgrove to be the No. 5 starter, may have a spot in the rotation when the regular season begins as the team waits for Collin McHugh, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. McHugh is behind the other starters and there's some question as to whether he'll build up enough innings to be ready for the season's first rotation. In the event the Astros take their time with McHugh and place him on the disabled list, both Fiers and Musgrove could fill out the rotation as fourth and fifth starters. Fiers looked sharp in his start Tuesday, striking out five in four scoreless innings.
Fiers (hamstring) tossed four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out five in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game. After missing his last start due to hamstring soreness, Fiers looked sharp in his return Tuesday. He is competing for the final spot in the Astros starting rotation with Joe Musgrove, who has held the statistical edge throughout spring. There is still plenty of time for Fiers to improve his numbers, and the 31-year-old's strong outing Tuesday should help get things rolling.
Fiers (hamstring) will start Tuesday against the Marlins, Jodie Wagner of the Houston Chronicle reports. Fiers, who missed his previous turn through the rotation because of hamstring soreness, is still in the mix for the final spot in the Astros' starting rotation with Joe Musgrove, who holds the spring statistical edge.
Fiers (hamstring) threw a batting practice session Tuesday, Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle reports. Fiers estimated throwing more than 30 pitches during the session and had trouble locating his curveball, often spiking it in the dirt. That indicates his release point was off. He's next scheduled to throw three innings in a minor league game this weekend.