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Closing Time: Mike Fiers goes to 14

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade
Fiers fans 14 in Brewers 6-2 win over Cubs
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No cheap pun here, you're on your own (AP/Paul Beaty)

Hey, Max Scherzer struck out 14 batters on Thursday afternoon. Hey, Mike Fiers did, too. 

I think you know which pitcher we have to talk about. 

Fiers was our lead item in the Arcade two days ago, looking ahead to Thursday's cushy spot (hello, Cubs; hello, Edwin Jackson). But not even a member of the Fiers family would have predicted what ultimately happened. 

The video is delicious. So was the pitching line: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 K. 

There are all kinds of qualifiers, of course. The wind was blowing in, so Fiers was working confidently, with a safety net. The Cubs have a couple of good hitters, but overall this is a plus matchup for anyone. And obviously we have to be careful with outlier performances; it's unlikely to expect any pitcher to have that level of command in every appearance. 

If you read the earlier Fiers piece, you'll recognize most of the following points. Nonetheless, we'll restate the case. 

Fiers was useful for most of 2012, then hit an iceberg last year (poor start, eventual forearm injury). He's been in the minors most of this season, regaining confidence and refining his game. 

It's logical to doubt any pitcher in his late 20s who's working at Triple-A (Fiers turned 29 in June), but we have to respect just how dominant Fiers was at Nashville, in the Pacific Coast League no less. A 2.55 ERA and 0.95 WHIP is an excellent start, and then look at the silly K/BB ratio: 129 whiffs, just 17 walks over 102.1 innings. 

How do you post those numbers while throwing a fastball in the mid-80s? You do it with movement, control, sequencing, experience. No one expects Fiers to take those ratios with him through the balance of the year, but after watching him dominate the Cubs (and beat a good Dodgers team last week), we certainly have to take him seriously. 

The Brewers rotation is fluid at the moment. Matt Garza (oblique) is on the disabled list, while Kyle Lohse (ankle) is nicked up. I have no idea what the workload plan is for rookie Jimmy Nelson, but he's already at 147 innings for the season. 

Bottom line, Milwaukee is in a pennant race, and it needs to put its best team on the field. It's obviously not my decision to make, but I can't imagine Fiers losing a rotation spot anytime soon. He's been too impressive, be it at Triple-A or with his two MLB auditions. 

Fiers will likely get a shot against Toronto next week, less than ideal - but at least it comes at home. The next scheduled turn waits in San Diego, obviously a nice spot. He's still unclaimed in about 80 percent of Yahoo leagues. (I loaded up the truck everywhere I could on the weekend; I'm on board. I know this is a pitcher with a modest margin for error - a nod to the radar gun - but I can't ignore his 2014 body of work.)

• The Fiers strikeout parade obscured some pesky news for the Brewers - Ryan Braun's thumb isn't close to 100 percent. He didn't play Thursday, though it sounds like he'll fight through the discomfort the rest of the season.

Braun's early power surge (six homers through 17 games) presented a nice selling window if you kept an open mind. He had a .629 slugging percentage on April 20. He's been useful but not really a slugger since then: .274/.330/.452, eight homers in 81 games. Let the other guy be hopeful with injuries; I want you to be realistic. 

• If you're in the market for a weekend streamer (or a temp-to-perm guy), maybe Drew Smyly can fill the bill. He's off to a tidy start with his new Tampa Bay club - 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP over two starts - and obviously there are advantages to the new setup. Tampa's defense is always excellent, and life under the catwalk is friendly to most pitchers. 

The Yankees aren't an easy matchup, to be fair - they're ninth in runs scored on the road, and they fare a lot better against left-handed pitching this year. But Smyly's still unowned in about 80 percent of Yahoo leagues, and that seems far too high. Fix that, fixers. 

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