Closing Time: A pitch for Mike Fiers

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 25: Mike Fiers #64 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the top of the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on May 25, 2013 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Pittburgh Pirates v Milwaukee Brewers

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 25: Mike Fiers #64 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the top of the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on May 25, 2013 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Looking ahead is a critical part of this roto racket, so our first throw in the Tuesday column will be a speculation play. Mike Fiers has a good chance to be relevant in mixed leagues. 

You probably remember the name - Fiers had a solid 2012 run with the Brewers, collecting nine wins over 22 starts. A 3.74 ERA and 1.26 WHIP might not sound like much, but he was completely in the Circle of Trust before a 7.09/1.88 crash landing in the final month of the year. His first 12 turns were fantasy-useful. Whatever your investment, you made a profit. 

The 2013 season turned into a quick flush - Fiers lost his rotation spot early in the year and a broken forearm wrecked the balance of his season. The veteran right-hander wasn't a big part of Milwaukee's plan into this season, in part due to his age (he turned 29 in June) and in part due to his ordinary arsenal (his average fastball is in the high 80s).

Of course, there's more than one way to get a batter out - and Fiers is one of those guys who knows how to do it. Using excellent control and consistent movement on his pitches, Fiers turned in a ridiculous 17-start audition at Triple-A Nashville: 2.55 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 129 strikeouts against just 17 walks. An absurd 11.35 K/9, that gets your attention - especially when there's 7.6 strikeouts per every free pass.

Fiers got the call for a fill-in start last week and turned in a gem, stopping the Dodgers over eight tidy innings (3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K). Nonetheless, he flies under the radar in most Yahoo leagues. He's only owned in four percent of The Y as this blog goes to post. 

I'm jumping in where I can. Fiers has been added to four of my seven Yahoo teams, and I grabbed him in Tout Wars as well. I also placed an aggressive $15 FAAB bid on him in my hometown mixer (14 teams; bids run Sunday night) and was surprisingly outbid. I guess I'm not the only believer.  

If you want to give Fiers a try, consider his Thursday start at Chicago (up against Edwin Jackson, a favorable draw). Fiers carries dual eligibility in our game, maximum flexibility. Think about what could go right here. Fiers showed a fair amount of skill two years ago, and that Triple-A line probably means something - even when it comes from a non-prospect who's old for the level. 

What happens when Matt Garza returns to action? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, it sounds like Garza won't be ready when first eligible. And you know how fickle pitchers are; the next injury is never far away. If Fiers pitches well over the next couple of starts, Milwaukee figures to make room for him. 

• As lousy as the Padres offense has been most of the year, it's fun to see them hitting a little bit in the second half. They're seventh in runs since the break, and fourth in OPS. Yangervis Solarte won Monday's game with a homer; he's a .296/.381/.451 bat since joining the Padres. He qualifies at three infield positions and is still 75-percent unowned in Yahoo. I'm tire-kicking in a few deeper pools. 

Will Venable spent most of the summer dealing with the Mendoza Line, but he's come alive in recent weeks. Over the past month, he's rocking a .329/.386/.487 line with three homers and three steals. Don't forget he was a 22-22 man last season. If Everth Cabrera needs any significant time off, Venable could find himself parked at the top of the order. 

Tommy Medica and Yonder Alonso are sharing first base, both hitting when they get a chance. Nifty yard-sale options in the DFS world. Jedd Gyorko has a .306 average and a couple of homers since his return 13 days ago. He covers second and third base in Yahoo leagues. (And Ted Bell also wants you to know about Rymer Liriano, a 23-year-old rookie outfielder who arrived after three weeks of PCL pinball stats. We appreciate you, Teddy Ballgame.)

• A couple of useful Mets pitchers have run into injury problems, and in these instances, I want to be realistic over hopeful. It's especially tricky when you consider where New York sits in the standings - the Mets aren't contending, so they'll probably think long-term with their decisions. 

Jacob deGrom is dealing with rotator cuff tendinitis, a relief given what was originally feared. He's on the 15-day DL and might not be done for the season, but what's the upside of New York bringing him back? He's a key part of their future, and was nearing an innings-related shutdown anyway. If you have DL space and can stash, that's fine, but I cut some deGrom shares here and there where I don't have flexibility. That's roto life in mid-August. 

And then there's closer Jenrry Mejia, who wants to pitch despite his lingering hernia. Given Mejia's spot on the club - he's new to the closer gig, and far from an established piece going forward - you can't blame him for not wanting to give up his turf. But can he pitch well despite the discomfort? And at what point will the team decide it's better off resting him? 

Jeurys Familia is the obvious hedge for Mejia owners, but it goes past that - Familia is also worth adding for non-Mejia owners chasing saves. He picked up Monday's handshake, a four-out appearance, albeit in rocky fashion (1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K). His 1.97 ERA is probably a little misleading - he's walking too many batters (25 over 59.1 innings). But Familia keeps the ball in the park, and a 1.20 WHIP is serviceable. 

You can join the family in 90 percent of Yahoo leagues. Ownership of the baton is something. Let's work on that number. 

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