Astros: Mike Fiers is a possible non-tender candidate
By Eric Huysman
The expectations for the Astros has risen after winning the World Series, what can we expect from Mike Fiers?
When the Houston Astros traded for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers in 2017, they were chasing the playoffs in 2015. The team found itself back in the playoff chase after years of the process, but they needed help. Gomez was a flop, but at least the Astros got Fiers, who threw a no-hitter versus the Dodgers in 2015.
Fiers was a big piece of the rotation in 2015 and 2016, but entered 2017 with a question mark by his name. There was a battle between Fiers and Collin McHugh during spring training, but McHugh was never healthy enough to pitch. His dead arm allowed Fiers to become the fifth starter instead of the long-reliever that most predicted.
Fiers stepped up to lead this staff while McHugh, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance McCullers were on the DL. In fact, Fiers was told that he was going to the bullpen, but then he stayed in when Keuchel went out.
Fiers was on fire for 12 games.
In 12 games Fiers started between May 20th and July 21st, the Astros went 8-4 in those starts. Fiers had a 2.84 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. McCullers had thought him how to throw a better curveball, and Fiers was showing potential. Then Fiers came unraveled, eventually losing the spot in the rotation.
Fiers finished the season with an 8-10 record with a 5.22 ERA. After that hot stretch, Fiers had a 7.90 ERA in his next eight starts. After throwing at hitters in a start and losing his cool, Fiers lost the confidence of A.J. Hinch. He made one appearance out of the bullpen that was not good, but got hit around for eight runs in his final start of 2017.
To his credit, Fiers stayed with the team after not making the playoffs roster. Along with Francis Martes, Michael Feliz, and others, Fiers had a front row seat during the playoffs. The question is, will he ever pitch again for the Astros?
As much as he helped the team, he looked out of wack at the end of the season. There is a difference between being frustrated on the mound and just losing your cool. With a loaded rotation with a few other options, Fiers just doesn’t fit with the team anymore.
No room for Fiers.
Justin Verlander, Keuchel, McCullers, and Charlie Morton are almost guaranteed locks for the rotation. McHugh, Martes, and Brad Peacock will contend for the final spot, the others will be in the bullpen. Fiers hasn’t shown that he can be that efficient option.
The Astros have tried to win while building up the farm system and assigning a value to a player. If a player exceeds that cost of that value, they are not likely to overpay. Fiers is arbitration eligible, so he’s due a raise despite the up and down season. MLB Trade Rumors has an estimated figure of $5.7 million.
If the Astros want to maintain starting pitching depth, they will try to get him to agree to a low salary. However, that $5.7 million can be used to upgrade the bullpen. This is why I believe that Fiers will be non-tendered before the deadline. This will also open a spot on the 40-man roster to add that reliever.
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We have had some great memories with Fiers and his no-hitter. We have also had some no so great memories, but the Astros don’t need average arms in the rotation anymore. They have elevated their expectation level, not sure what to expect from Fiers anymore.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB Trade Rumors***