Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – Two weeks ago Mike Fiers found himself in the bullpen, after starting the season with a 5.21 ERA through his first nine starts the Houston Astros could no longer afford to use him every five days and it looked like he was going to be relegated to long relief.
But just as soon as they made that decision, injuries started to hit the pitching staff and now down three starters, Fiers would be pressed back into the rotation, and he’s pitched very well ever since.
In Fiers past four starts, he has a 1.78 ERA, he’s gone seven innings twice (hadn’t thrown seven innings all year until then) and he’s been the best pitcher on staff during that time.
“He’s pitching with a lot of confidence right now, so I think that bodes well for a guy who has the ball in his hand and he is going to attack a lineup when you feel good about all your pitches,” A.J. Hinch said of Fiers after his most recent start.
In the past 30 days, Fiers has been one of the better pitchers in the league with a 2.25 ERA during that time, which is good enough for the ninth-best ERA in baseball.
Fiers resurgence is coming at a perfect time too, with four of the team’s likely opening day starters on the DL, he’s been the one consistent in the rotation.
No Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton, and certainly no Collin McHugh (he’s yet to pitch this season), Fiers has been a key reason the Astros double-digit lead in the A.L. West hasn’t started to falter.
As to what’s been working for Fiers, it looks like arm angels have been a big key.
“I think changing my arm angle a little bit helps me with my curveball, the fastball gets a little bit more run,” Mike Fiers said of what he’s changed since the start of the season.
“The high fastball is back in play for him with his breaking ball off the same plane, he’s always got the changeup, he’s always had it,” Hinch said. “I see a more confident pitcher than I saw in the beginning of the season, his pace has picked up a little bit, his execution has picked up a little bit and his quality has picked up a little bit.”
Per Brooks Baseball, Fiers, a six-pitch pitch pitcher, has been a lot less reliant on his slider and his cutter during this stretch, he instead has primarily focused on his fastball, changeup, curveball, and sinker.
Whether it’s the confidence, the arm angle, cutting down pitch usage on ineffective pitches or any other host reasons, Fiers has been a godsend to the Astros during this stretch of injures to the starting pitching staff, and with his resurgence, it’s hard to think he won’t continue to be a part of the rotation once guys start coming off the DL.