Astros: Mike Fiers still has a lot to prove

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Jun 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Mike Fiers (54) reacts after getting a strikeout during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Mike Fiers (54) reacts after getting a strikeout during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Astros right-hander Mike Fiers has been spectacular as of late.

After being threatened to lose his spot in the Astros starting rotation at the end of May, right-hander Mike Fiers has completely turned his season around in his last four starts. However, the 32-year-old’s next outing against the Oakland A’s on Wednesday could be very telling as to if he will keep pitching consistently well or revert back to his old ways.

The difference between Fiers’ stats in the first two months of the season and in June is staggering.

In the months of April in May, he gave up 29 earned runs in 52.2 innings of work, amounting to a 4.96 ERA. With a batting average against north of .275 and a WHIP over 1.50, Fiers had a lot of trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark. He gave up 18 home runs in his first nine starts of the year, giving up an average of 3.08 home runs per nine innings of work.

Astros fans kind of got a sample of what June would look like in his start against the Minnesota Twins on May 30th. In six innings of work, Fiers gave up two earned runs on five hits and three walks, striking out eight in the Astros 7-2 win. What was the most important stat of that game? It was that Fiers did not allow a home run in a start for the first time in 2017.

It seemed to start a trend. Through three starts in the month of June, Fiers has a 1.40 ERA with a 0.98 WHIP. With a .197 batting average against, he has only walked five and has struck out 16 in 19.1 innings of work.

What has made this veteran pitcher destined for the bullpen successful again? You guessed it. He has not allowed a home run in his first three starts this month. However, there is one thing in common with the three teams he faced in those starts. The Kansas City Royals, the Los Angeles Angels and the Boston Red Sox are all in the bottom third in major league baseball in terms of home run total, finishing 20th, 22nd and 27th respectively.

Fiers’ next start against the A’s on Wednesday is very important.

It is his first start against a team that is in the Top 10 in terms of MLB leaders in home runs since May 14th against the New York Yankees in which he gave up home runs to Starlin Castro and Aaron Judge. The A’s are ninth in baseball with 99 home runs this season. The team has three players, Khris Davis, Yonder Alonso and Ryon Healy, that each has at least 17 home runs.

This game is very big for the veteran right-hander. This could be one of two straight starts for Fiers against this A’s team. Despite not being known as an offensive team, with a low team batting average and being in the lower third for RBI total, the A’s have the power to make Fiers’ night miserable on the mound.

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This start will show whether Fiers is a changed pitcher or that he has just been luck against teams who do not hit the long ball very well. Astros fans will see if Fiers deserves the fifth starting spot or if it has been just a fluke.

***Stats provided by MLB.com and ESPN.com***

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