Friday, April 19, 2013

Burgos up, Fiers down (below)

The Brewers made a roster move Thursday night, sending struggling right-hander Mike Fiers down to AAA Nashville and replacing him with another right-hander in Hiram Burgos. Fiers had only made one start this year, but it was a remarkably awful one, surrendering six runs (with two homers) in five innings and striking out only one of the 25 batters he faced against the Diamondbacks. He also made two relief appearances, one clean and one poor, neither featuring a strikeout. His command has been off and he's been unable to find the corners of the zone, resulting in either a pitch outside the zone that hitters won't chase or pitch in the meaty part of the zone that batters hit hard. The lack of whiffs is particularly troubling for a pitcher whose success is largely dependent on strikeouts and doesn't have the stuff to generate loads of weak contact in the form of grounders or pop-ups. Fiers has struggled mightily since last August, and just barely won a rotation spot this season despite a rough Spring. Fiers started slow early in 2012 before catching fire after his late-May call-up, so there's still plenty of hope he can fix his issues and turn it around.

As for Burgos, he's something of a late bloomer in the Brewers' system who's cut from the same cloth as fellow starter Marco Estrada. Hiram is coming off a tremendous year where he had a 3.12/1 K/BB ratio to go with a 1.95 ERA in 171 innings spread across three levels of the minors. He has a four-pitch mix which features a fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider. His fastball velocity is nothing special, sitting 88-92, but his bread-and-butter is his changeup, which he can throw to hitters on both sides of the plate. He has good command of all his pitches and keeps the walks in check, but might be homer prone in the majors due to his flyball tendencies. With Tyler Thornburg and Johnny Hellweg waiting in the minors along with Fiers and Mark Rogers likely coming back at some point, Burgos' stay in the majors is directly correlated with how well he pitches. So, good luck Hiram.

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