Fiers’ sub-2.00 ERA hopes to give Brewers series win

Pregame

> With the Brewers taking last night’s game, they have a chance to claim this series against the Reds tonight.

And they’ve got the perfect pitcher on the mound to do it: Mike Fiers (5-4, 1.88 ERA). He has been phenomenal since his call-up in late May, as that sub-2.00 ERA shows (despite the lousy W-L record). He made his debut at Dodger Stadium and threw well that game, going seven innings and giving up one run for his first career win. I’ll admit I was completely sold after that game for two reasons: it was just one game, and Dodger Stadium is extremely pitcher-friendly. That theory actually appeared to be coming true after Fiers went 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in his first two starts at Miller Park (obviously a hitter-friendly park). But, after those two games, Fiers has been nearly unstoppable, posting an ERA below 1.00 since those games.

Fiers will be opposed by a tough opponent in Reds ace Johnny Cueto (14-5, 2.52 ERA). These two already faced off at Great American Ball Park a few weeks ago, with Fiers taking the loss despite giving up only one earned run. But, Cueto hasn’t been very sharp his past two outings, despite recording wins in both. One of them was against the Rockies at Coors Field, which is understandable with the way the ball has been flying out of there this year, but the other was against the Padres, a team you expect an ace to dominate. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Brewers knock him around a bit.

Despite all the praise I’ve been giving Fiers lately, this is actually his final test to see if he’s a real Major League pitcher. The Reds are the first team Fiers will have faced multiple times. A lot of times with rookie pitchers, they might get away with an outing against a team that hasn’t seen him before, which brings the luck factor into this. I hope that isn’t the case with Fiers (and I doubt it is), but we’ll find out tonight.

The News

> The Rays designated Brooks Conrad for assignment today. Do I even need to go there, though?

> Earlier today, I was reading an article by Richard Justice on the Roy Oswalt situation with the Rangers, and I honestly couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I read it. Not because it was funny, but because it’s the type of writing I love to read, and on rare occasion do any professional writers do it anymore.

First, though, let me brief you if you’re unaware. Oswalt signed a mid-season contract with the Rangers a few months back, a move that was anticipated by many. But, the deal never really panned out, as Oswalt struggled to a 6.49 ERA in the Rangers’ rotation (despite posting a 3-2 record). So, the Rangers went out and acquired Ryan Dempster, and Oswalt was moved to the bullpen. Simple as that.

Or not. Oswalt had been pitching solidly out of the Rangers’ ‘pen the past few weeks, but the other night that may have come to a halt. After Oswalt had thrown two innings of relief, Rangers manager Ron Washington asked him to go back out for a third inning. But, Oswalt told him he’d had enough. That’s where the dilemma starts.

Oswalt had made it clear to the Rangers, though he may not have said it publicly, that he wanted to start. In other words, he was putting himself in front of his teammates, something that doesn’t go on in the Rangers’ clubhouse (or any contending team’s clubhouse, for that matter). So Washington took Oswalt’s gesture the other night as him declining to pitch because he wasn’t starting.

I’ll admit I’ve never been a fan of Oswalt’s attitude, even going back to his days with the Astros. The talent was definitely there in the early and mid-2000’s, so you could ignore it. But now, Oswalt is well past his prime, but still has that same attitude. That will drive people in the wrong direction regarding Oswalt. So if he doesn’t get his crap together and accept his role, he may not be on a Major League roster much longer.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I recall Brewers fans suggesting they sign Oswalt. While that may have looked good at the time, I’m considering it a bullet dodged at this point.

The Numbers Game

Basically everyone had a good night in the Brewers lineup last night, so here are the highlights.

> Martin Maldonado went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He knocked two doubles and a home run, bringing his average up to .286. Needless to say he’s showing that he doesn’t want to become dead weight now that Jonathan Lucroy is back.

> Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart each went 2-for-4 with home runs last night. They seem to be always be hot at about the same time.

> Despite the power display, though, three hitters in the Brewers lineup went 0-for-4: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Jean Segura. Gomez had been hot for awhile, so I don’t expect him to keep up that pace for the rest of the season. It was Segura’s Brewers debut, so the nerves probably got to him. But keep in mind it wasn’t too long ago that Braun’s average was up in the .320 range.

> And that’s about it. I’m going to miss most of tonight’s game because I’m going to a concert, so I’ll try and get up the postgame when I get home (should be somewhere around midnight). Anyway, I leave you with the probable lineup for tonight:

  1. Norichika Aoki RF
  2. Nyjer Morgan CF
  3. Ryan Braun LF
  4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
  5. Corey Hart 1B
  6. Rickie Weeks 2B
  7. Jonathan Lucroy C
  8. Jean Segura SS
  9. Mike Fiers P
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