The team's No. 5 starter, Fiers took the mound for the first time in 2013 on April 6 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Let's just say things didn't go exactly as planned for the 27-year-old righty. In five innings, Fiers threw 97 pitches, allowing six earned runs and nine hits in a 9-2 loss.
With the benefit of three off days in the past week, the Brewers had the luxury of skipping Fiers in the rotation and sending him to the bullpen. And that's exactly what it was -- a luxury. Fiers looked all out of sorts in his lone start of the season and as a pitcher who tops out in the high 80s, he left far too many pitches out over the plate, resulting in two home runs and several hard-hit baseballs.
One noticeable difference in Fiers' first start compared to last season was how less frequently he threw his cutter. It's hard to say if that contributed to his woes, but it's fair to assume that Fiers abandoned his cut fastball because he had difficulty controlling it. It's an important pitch for Fiers to have in his arsenal because of how soft he throws his fastball.
Not all hope is lost for Fiers. After being called up from Triple-A Nashville last season, Fiers went 6-4 with a 1.80 ERA in his first 13 starts. And his success was predicated on location, location, location. Fiers lost his grip on that accuracy over his final 10 starts of 2012, and that appears to remain an issue to this day, although he did have a scoreless relief effort April 13.
Perhaps this stint in the bullpen will serve Fiers well but once he is forced back into the rotation, he needs to figure it out quickly because the Brewers have other options they can turn to within the organization. One of those options, left-handed hurler Chris Narveson, is on the disabled list with a sprained finger, as is Mark Rogers with shoulder fatigue.
With no viable options in the minors at this very moment, this gives Fiers an opportunity to redeem himself. Unless Milwaukee wants one of its starters to pitch on four-days rest, Fiers' next start will come April 20 against the Chicago Cubs.
Based on past performance, we know that Fiers has what it takes to get hitters out on a consistent basis, but if he continues to pitch like second half of 2012 Fiers rather than first half of 2012 Fiers, the Brewers will soon look elsewhere for a No. 5 starter.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
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