2017 has not been kind for Astros starter Mike Fiers.
He has posted a 5.75 ERA, allowing 16 home runs and only throwing 36 innings in seven starts, Mike Fiers has shown no progress. This leaves the Astros with a decision: What do we do?
Cody Poage touched on this issue, and I agree that Collin McHugh is the big reason in determining Fiers future in the rotation. We have touched on the statistics that, but what tangible errors are attributing to this?
"What should the Astros do about Mike Fiers?"
I wrote about Fiers’ mechanics several months ago. Although people disagree with my assessment, it is becoming more prolific in the performance. It’s hard to hide an 89-92 mph fastball from hitters, regardless of your delivery. Fiers works to deceive hitters with his high lead shoulder, but it’s not working. Fiers will either overcompensate and throws the ball severely down in the zone, or misses high in the zone.
A look at Fiers’ Velocity
Let’s be honest, Fiers does not blow anyone away with his fastball. He throws it over 50% of the time and averages 89 mph in velocity. The fastball cannot be his most used pitch, period. For example, Dallas Keuchel has a similar velocity to Fiers.
However, he uses his off-speed pitches to build up the fastball. Keuchel also uses location as a way to deceive hitters. Fiers throws the type of pitch hitters love: an elevated fastball. Fiers needs to use his off-speed pitches and learn to command them.
A look at Fiers’ Command
As much as we want pitchers to have great command, it cannot be consistent with the positions Fiers’ finds himself when pitching. The high right shoulder creates axis tilt, which tells the body to work upward in the direction of the tilt. For example, when a golfer wants to hit the ball higher, he increases this axis tilt away from his target, to elevate the ball. The physics is similar to throwing a baseball and hitting a golf ball. Fiers delivery will always produce elevated pitches.
All in all, I don’t wish to undermine anyone, but the fact remains that Fiers is not adjusting to the game, and is much more susceptible to hitters now more than ever. Fiers can’t command the baseball with his delivery and has not added life to his fastball.
***Stats and Data retrieved from MLB.com and Fangraphs***