Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Mike Fiers

DETROIT, MI - JUNE 27: Mike Fiers #50 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning at Comerica Park on June 27, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JUNE 27: Mike Fiers #50 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning at Comerica Park on June 27, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

On Monday, July 2, the Blue Jays will finish a four game wrap-around series against the Detroit Tigers. Ryan Borucki will make his second career start in the majors while countering Mike Fiers of the Tigers.

Mike Fiers was, at one time, quite the steal of a draft pick for the Milwaukee Brewers. The right-hander was drafted in the twenty-second round out of Nova Southeastern University. Out of college he was placed in rookie ball, where he was untouchable. The right-handed hurler posted a 1.29 ERA, 2.07 FIP, and 15.00 K/9 in 13 appearances. Interestingly, he never started a game in rookie ball.

After proving himself in rookie ball, he made his way up to high-A, where he began starting. Once he began the new role, he was excellent, ending with a dominant 1.11 ERA and 3.61 FIP year in triple-A. Unsurprisingly, his remarkable play in triple-A earned him a call up to the major leagues. As a starter in the majors, he has been unpredictable. Most recently, though, he has struggled.

On the world champion Astros, he allowed a poor 5.22 ERA and 5.43 FIP. In total, he was worth just 0.1 fWAR. Or, in other words, he was almost perfectly replaceable. However, for the Tigers he has been a little better, posting a 4.04 ERA, 4.92 FIP, 1.287 WHIP, and 108 ERA+.

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Fiers utilizes a wide array of pitches to get opposing batters out. The right-handed starter will alternate fairly evenly between a four seam fastball, cutter, change-up, curveball, sinker, and slider. However, the slider has only been used 1.3% of the time, and is somewhat irrelevant.

The right-hander has fired home four seam fastballs 33.1% of the time this year. The four seamer is not that fast, averaging a velocity of 89.36 mph. As well, it has not fared well this year, posting a .460 SLGA and 6 home runs.

The cutter has been featured 19.4% of the time. The cut-fastball has produced line drives at a dangerous rate of 24.53% of balls in play. Unsurprisingly, the cutter has not fared well, allowing a horrible .525 SLGA with four home runs and five doubles.

The former twenty-second round pick has changed speeds on batters 18.6% of the time this season. The off speed pitch is relatively fast, posting an average velocity of 82.97 mph. The change has produced by far the most ground balls, posting a rate of 56.9% of balls in play. Despite this, the pitch has allowed a terrible .347 BAA and .556 SLGA.

Fiers has broken off hooks 15.6% of the time this season. The breaking ball maintains good 12-6 movement and drop, while averaging a velocity of 72.2 mph. The curve has produced by far the most whiffs, with a decent rate of 30.88% of swings. Also, the hook has produced a good .314 SLGA, also by far the lowest of all of his pitches.

The right-hander completes his repertoire with a sinker, a pitch he uses 11.9% of the time. The sinker has good arm side finish, but it has not fared well against opposing batters. Opposing hitters have managed a .325 AVG and .541 SLG% against the sinking-fastball.

The former Brewer has produced an extreme fly ball rate of 44.9%. Unfortunately for the pitcher, he has also posted a terrible HR/FB rate of 13.1%. In his best years he has been lucky with a below-average HR/FB rate, which partly explains his up-and-down seasons.

In the past, his hard hit rate has been concerning, but never bad. This season, however, his hard hit rate isn’t good. Through 15 starts he has posted a 37% hard hit rate. This rate, coupled with his high rate of fly balls, explains why he has allowed such a terrible HR/FB rate this year.

With these terrible peripheral numbers, it is surprising that he does not have a much worse ERA. Currently, he has been quite serviceable for a pitcher on a one year, $6 million contract. However, this glory should be short lived, since, as with many starters the Blue Jays have faced recently, Fiers has been incredibly lucky on balls in play, posting a .285 BABIP. Currently the starter holds a 4.92 FIP, suggesting that the second half of this season may not be as forgiving for the Tigers hurler.

The Blue Jays have been excellent against the Florida native in limited experience. Kendrys Morales has been the best, managing five hits in 14 at-bats. As well, Devon Travis owns three hits, including two doubles, in six career at-bats. However, Justin Smoak has struggled, producing just one hit in ten career at-bats against the starter.

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The Blue Jays will look to bounce back after enduring a blow-out loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Borucki will look to build on the excellent start he had in Houston, while the Blue Jays bats will look to bounce back after a rough game Sunday.