It’s been a long offseason, but we’re finally back to the rumble and hum of beginning-of-the-season mumblings! We’ve got some new guys, and some I didn’t cover last year, so here we go! Let’s get 2019 started off right!
Almost exactly eleven years ago, Mike Fiers was slumped in the guard rail of Florida’s Turnpike, his vehicle laying on the other side the freeway. His leg was dangling limp. He’d fallen asleep at the wheel, been ejected from his car and still somehow ended up alive and in one piece. A sore and broken piece, but still intact. When the ambulance came to whisk him away to the hospital, it was clear he wouldn’t be returning to baseball any time soon.
For anyone else, that would be the end of it. Throw in the towel and have some wild stories to tell your grandkids. For Fiers, though, baseball was just being postponed — until the back brace came off.
After posting a 10-3, 12.01 K/9 season at Nova Southeastern University, he was selected by the Brewers in the 22nd round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Fiers struggled to get a foothold in the Majors, posting a 3.74 ERA and 9-10 record in 2012. The following year, he only started three games over 22.1 IP, at age 29.
Not only was his MLB career slow to start up, but Fiers was also dealing with something much graver: His mother, who had been battling terminal illness, was hospitalized on Mother’s Day after her breathing became labored. While in the minors, Fiers was commuting from baseball to his mother’s bedside, spending every spare minute with her.
Sadly, Linda Korman finally passed in 2013. With a heavy heart, Fiers pushed himself onward. She had fought for him and he was going to fight for her.
Things looked up in 2014, with a great partial season for the Brewers. However, in a game that year against the Marlins, Fiers chucked an 88 MPH fastball to Giancarlo Stanton. He began to swing, but the pitch drilled Stanton in the face, sending him to the hospital. Once the dust settled, Fiers was ready to face Stanton’s stand-in, Reed Johnson. One pitch after fracturing Stanton’s face, Fiers nailed Johnson in the hand. The benches cleared, Fiers was fined.
He finally pitched a full MLB season in 2015. On May 17th of that year he became the 73rd pitcher ever to record an immaculate inning, striking out all three batters on nine straight strikes. On July 20th, Fiers was traded to the Houston Astros, and less than a month later he showed them exactly why they should let him stick around: Fiers tossed a no-hitter against the LA Dodgers, the first ever recorded at Minute Maid Park. He dedicated the game to his mom. He later wrapped up that exciting season by making a brief appearance in the playoffs, facing four batters in the ALDS.
In 2017, the Astros won the World Series, earning Fiers his first championship ring, even though he didn’t get the call to pitch in the postseason.
After signing with the Tigers, the A’s traded for Fiers in August of last season. He went 5-2 over 53 innings of work, aiding in the A’s 2018 wild card berth but once again being left out of the playoff roster. Even still, Oakland liked what they saw and finally re-signed the 6’2” righty to a two-year deal, worth $14.1M.
He’s already proved he’s worth the risk of a shiny new contract, now it’s time for Fiers to show us what he can do with it. With a winning record through his nine games started last year for us, let’s hope the trend continues to his first full season wearing green and gold. No matter what’s in store, Fiers is ready to take it head on. He’s already fought too hard to back down now.