Mike Fiers

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Michael Bruce Fiers

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Mike Fiers was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 22nd round of the 2009 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Charlie Sullivan and made his pro debut that summer.

Fiers reached the majors as a September call-up in 2011, making his debut for the Brewers on September 14th. Facing the Colorado Rockies that game, he allowed 2 hits and struck out 2 over a scoreless inning of relief work. he only pitched twice for the Brewers, giving up no runs in his two innings of work.

Michael picked up his first career victory on May 29, 2012, on the day of his call-up from the AAA Louisville Bats. He started the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium and did very well, giving up only one run over 7 innings; Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the 1st, and John Axford picked up the save to lock up a 2-1 win.

Fiers started the 2014 season in the minors, before being called up a first time in June, when he made four appearances out of the Brewers' bullpen, going 0-1, 2.57. He came back to the majors in August, this time as a starter and pitched extremely well as the rest of the pitching staff seemingly unraveled and the Brewers fell from first to third place in the NL Central. He was 6-1 over his first 7 starts as the staff's only consistent winner over the period. On September 11th, he was at the center of a scary incident in a game against the Miami Marlins, when one of his fastballs struck star OF Giancarlo Stanton in the face in the 5th inning. Stanton lay motionless at home plate for several minutes, bleeding profusely, and had to leave the game with multiple facial fractures and broken teeth, his season over. However, he had swung that the pitch for strike two, and a pinch-hitter, Reed Johnson had to complete the at-bat. Fiers struck him out on a pitch that also hit him, prompting a bench-clearing brawl that led to Marlins manager Mike Redmond and 3B Casey McGehee both being ejected for arguing home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn's decision to call both pitches strikes. Fiers left the game after those incidents; having completed five innings, he received credit for Milwaukee's 4-2 win. Visibly shaken, he immediately issued an apology to Stanton over the incident and explained to reporters:

"It was very tough. I've never in my life experienced something like that. It was very hard for me to take in everything at the moment and come back and throw another pitch. I just want to send my thoughts and prayers and everything to Giancarlo Stanton. You never think of throwing at somebody like that. Never in my life has that happened. I just feel very, very sad that I hit him. I'm sorry to their teammates, their fans, his family. It is just tough."

He was issued a fine by Major League Baseball for his role in the fracas, while the Marlins' Anthony DeSclafani was suspended for three games for throwing a retaliatory pitch at Carlos Gomez. He finished the season with a record of 6-5, 2.13 in 14 games.

Given how well he had pitched in the second half of 2014, the Brewers were expecting big things from Mike in 2015, but like the rest of the team, he struggled in the early going, a situation that led to the firing of manager Ron Roenicke and his replacement by Craig Counsell. He did pitch an immaculate inning, striking out the side on nine pitches, on May 7th. He was 5-9 but with a decent 3.89 ERA after 21 starts when on July 30th, he was traded to the Houston Astros along with OF Carlos Gomez in exchange for four prospects: Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, Adrian Houser, and Josh Hader. The Astros also acquired slot No. 76 in the 2015-16 international pool. His first game for the Astros did not go as expected, as on August 3rd, he came to pitch in the 3rd inning after starter Lance McCullers had been chased in the 1st and the Astros were already down, 6-3. He ended up pitching 5 innings, but gave up 6 runs on 7 hits, including the last two hits that allowed Adrian Beltre to complete his record-tying third career cycle as the Astros lost, 12-9. He had originally been scheduled to start the next day, but plans changed because of McCullers' short outing and the need not to overtax the bullpen. On August 21st, he pitched a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Ddogers in a 3-0 win. He needed 134 pitches to complete the game, struck out 10 batters, including Justin Turner to end the game and walked three, but retired the last 21 batters he faced in order. Not only was it his first career complete game, but he had never pitched in the 9th inning of a game he had started before this. It was the fifth no-hitter of the season, and the first in the history of Minute Maid Park. He went 2-1, 3.32 in 10 games for Houston, all starts except for his initial unscheduled relief outing; his combined mark was 7-10, 3.69. His only appearance of the postseason was one inning of relief in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Kansas City Royals, in which he gave up a run.

In 2016, he went 11-8, 4.48 in 31 games as a starter for Houston, logging 168 2/3 innings. On September 14, 2017, he was handed a five-game suspension for an incident in the previous day's game, against the Los Angeles Angels. He had thrown a ball over Luis Valbuena's head in a move that he admitted was in retaliation for Valbuena hitting a 1st-inning homer off him and doing a bat flip in celebration, a move which Fiers thought "showed disrespect". The pitch had prompted an immediate warning from home plate umpire Cory Blaser before the Commissioner's office added the suspension. He was used again regularly as a starter by the Astros that year even though his results were not great, because the team was decimated to injuries to its starting pitchers in spite of leading its division race handily. As a result, he led the team with 153 1/3 innings, even though his record was only 8-10, 5.22, a record more fit for the busiest pitcher on a 100-loss team, and not on one that actually won 101! He was left off the roster for the postseason, when the Astros won the first World Series title in franchise history. On December 8, 2017, it was reported that he had signed a one-year free agent deal with the Detroit Tigers worth $6 million.

Fiers made 21 starts for Detroit in 2018 and had good results, going 7-6, 3.48. He was particularly strong starting in late June, with an ERA of 1.98 over his last 8 starts for the Tigers. It was widely expected that he would be traded before July 31st, but it took a few more days, the trade coming on August 6th when he was sent to the Oakland Athletics in return for a player to be named later and other future considerations. He pitched very well for Oakland, going 5-2, 3.74 in 10 games to finish the year at 12-8, 3.56. While he did not pitch in the postseason as the A's elected to go with a bullpen game in the Wild Card Game against the New York Yankees, the A's did re-sign him after the season. On December 22nd, he agreed to a two-year deal worth somewhere between $14 and 15 million.

Fiers was named the Athletics' opening day starter in 2019. That game took place earlier than usual, as the A's were scheduled to travel to Japan to open their season with a two-game series against the Seattle Mariners on March 20-21. On May 7th, he pitched his second career no-hitter - and the first of the 2019 season - when he defeated the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 at the Oakland Coliseum. The game was almost postponed because of a malfunctioning bank of lights in left field that was hindering visibility. After a delay of 1 hour and 38 minutes, the two teams agreed to go on with the game in the less than ideal conditions. Fiers a had an ERA of 6.81 coming into the game; he needed 131 pitches to complete the gem, walking 2 and striking out 6. Pitch count was an issue as he was already at 109 pitches after 7 innings and Manager Bob Melvin had someone warming up for the final two innings and would have taken him out had he allowed another baserunner past that point. He was also helped by CF Ramon Laureano, who robbed Joey Votto of a potential home run by leaping over the fence in the 6th inning. He got all the run support he needed on a two-run homer by Jurickson Profar in the bottom of the 7th. On July 12th, he recorded his seventh straight win, dating back to the no-hitter, when he pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox. The win improved his record to 9-3, with an ERA of 3.61. He finished the year at 15-4, 3.90 in 33 starts, with 126 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings. Still, although he had been the A's best pitcher during the whole season, it was Sean Manaea, who had pitched brilliantly in September after coming back from an injury, who was selected to start the Wild Card Game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Following the season, he set off a firestorm when he gave an interview to The Athletic in which he revealed that the 2017 Astros had put together an elaborate scheme using technology to steal their opponents' signs. Major League Baseball launched an investigation which corroborated his allegation and led to very harsh punishment being levied on the Astros, including a $5 million fine, the loss of their top two picks in the next two amateur drafts, and a one-year suspension to GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch (both were immediately fired by owner Jim Crane).

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2019)
  • Won one World Series with the Houston Astros in 2017 (he did not play in the World Series)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Chris Bumbaca: "Astros scandal whistleblower Mike Fiers says he does not need extra protection in 2020", USA Today, February 20, 2020. [1]
  • Martin Gallegos: "Fiers becomes 35th pitcher to throw 2 no-hitters: 33-year-old completes 2nd career no-no on 131 pitches", mlb.com, May 8, 2019. [2]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Dream becomes reality for Fiers during no-no: Astros righty dedicates feat to family, friends", mlb.com, August 22, 2015. [3]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Mike Fiers' no-hitter makes no sense at all - 'Baseball is definitely a weird game'", USA Today, May 8, 2019. [4]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Former MLB players, coaches have mixed feelings toward Mike Fiers, the whistleblower in the Astros' cheating scandal", USA Today, January 17, 2020. [5]

Related Sites[edit]