Houston Astros: Mike Fiers returns to A’s, may finally face Houston

HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 29: Former Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers,(c), who broke the news that the Astros cheated during their 2017 World Series win sits in the overflow section during game one of a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park on August 29, 2020 in Houston, Texas. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. The day honoring Jackie Robinson, traditionally held on April 15, was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 29: Former Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers,(c), who broke the news that the Astros cheated during their 2017 World Series win sits in the overflow section during game one of a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park on August 29, 2020 in Houston, Texas. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. The day honoring Jackie Robinson, traditionally held on April 15, was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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The “We Want Fiers” chorus was loud and clear over social media last year as Houston fans desperately wanted the Astros to get a chance for revenge against Mike Fiers. That chance never came, of course, but it might be happening now as the Oakland A’s have reportedly agreed to re-sign the controversial veteran.

After the A’s freed up a little bit of payroll space with their Khris Davis – Elvis Andrus swap, they quickly moved to re-sign Fiers, who’s been in Oakland since 2018. The 35-year-old has gone 26-9 with a 4.00 ERA in parts of three seasons there, but he’s coming off a 4.58 ERA in 11 regular season starts in 2020. Reportedly, he did not receive an offer from any other team.

Fiers, of course, is persona non grata in Houston after being the whistleblower behind the Astros sign stealing scandal. It’s widely known that illegal sign stealing was rampant across the league, but having a former player go on the record is what led to the Astros being branded as the scapegoats for what many teams were doing.

Fiers came to Houston in the now-infamous Carlos Gomez trade with Milwaukee in 2015 and went 21-19 with a 4.59 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Astros, including an ugly 5.22 ERA in 2017 that saw him left off the playoff rosters and non-tendered following the season. He did throw a no-hitter in Houston in 2015, but that was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable tenure.

Mike Fiers may not be able to avoid Houston this year.

Why We Want Him

Fiers made five starts against Houston in 2019, and to say he got torched would be an understatement. He put up a 9.39 ERA in those starts as Astros hitters teed off on him to the tune of a .330/.393/.711 line and 12 long balls in just 23 innings. That included giving up six earned runs in 1.2 innings on April 7 and then coughing up nine earned runs in just one inning on Sept. 9.

That experience almost certainly factored into his decision to go on the record and throw his former team under the bus. As a result, the Astros have become the primary target of ignorant fans everywhere, and they haven’t had a chance for revenge thus far. The A’s have clearly made sure of that.

Despite being healthy and in the rotation all year, Fiers never faced the Astros in 2020, as he seemed to just miss Houston throughout the schedule, which couldn’t have simply been a coincidence. He also never pitched when the two teams met in the ALDS, making him the only pitcher on Oakland’s roster to not see any action in the series.

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When We’ll Get Him

If Fiers makes Oakland’s starting rotation to open the season, it’ll be all but impossible for him to avoid the Astros. The A’s start the season with a four-game home series against the Astros, then host the Dodgers for three games, and then travel to Houston for three more. There are no off days in between any of those games, so unless Oakland goes with a six-man rotation, every member of their starting staff will face the Astros at least once in that span.

The two teams will meet again for three games in mid-May, three more in early July, three more in late September, and then for the final three games of the regular season in early October. So six of Oakland’s final nine games will come against the Astros, meaning it would take some real maneuvering for Fiers to avoid Houston then. But at the very least, we should have a shot at him in April.

Of course it’s entirely possible that Fiers will “suffer” a minor injury that would cause him to miss whatever scheduled starts he has against Houston, which would surprise no one. But aside from that, assuming Oakland has a five-man rotation, there’s no way for him to avoid the Astros if he’s going to be on the A’s starting staff to open the season.

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