The Oakland A’s have named Mike Fiers as their Opening Day starting pitcher, the team announced Saturday. The right-hander will start the first game in Japan on March 20, and he’ll be followed by Marco Estrada in the second game, reports Julian McWilliams of The Athletic.
The last two years have been a roller coaster for Fiers. He was non-tendered by the Astros after the 2017 season, but the Tigers picked him up and he rebounded with a strong campaign in 2018. He pitched well enough that he was acquired by the contending A’s in August, but then they chose not to use him in their sudden-death playoff game in favor of a full bullpen effort. He was then non-tendered again this winter, before re-signing with the A’s team that had just cut him loose, and now he’s their Opening Day starter. Got all that?
Fiers, 2018: 3.56 ERA, 172 ip, 139 Ks, 37 BB, 32 HR, 4.75 FIP
This will be Fiers’ first Opening Day start, and it comes in his age-34 season. He provided a humble response, and noted that he hopes to “set the tone for this team and get ourselves off on the right foot.”
The rest of the rotation isn’t yet decided after Fiers and Estrada, but the smart bet would be for it to include veteran lefty Brett Anderson, who is on an MLB contract, and promising righties Daniel Mengden and Frankie Montas, who are both out of minor league options and can’t be sent down to Triple-A. Elite top prospect Jesus Luzardo is also part of the conversation.
Hot takes: Congrats to Fiers! This was a pretty obvious pick, but now it’s official. He’s shown admirable patience lately, after being passed over for the postseason start and then non-tendered again despite a solid year, so it’s nice to see him get some good news.
The full rotation depth looks like this:
MLB contracts, or out of options
- Mike Fiers
- Marco Estrada
- Brett Anderson
- Daniel Mengden
- Frankie Montas
- Aaron Brooks (odd man out for now?)
Options remaining, can stash in Triple-A
- Chris Bassitt
- Paul Blackburn
- Jesus Luzardo (not on 40-man roster)
Injured, but might contribute in 2019
- Jharel Cotton (out for beginning of 2019)
- Daniel Gossett (out for most of 2019)
- Sean Manaea (might not pitch in 2019, but optimistic)
- Grant Holmes (missed all of 2018, and hasn’t pitched in Triple-A)
- A.J. Puk (out for beginning of 2019, and hasn’t pitched in Triple-A)
More upper-minors depth
- Tanner Anderson (reliever converting to starting; on 40-man roster)
- Parker Bridwell (waiver claim, outrighted to AAA)
- Jake Buchanan (veteran minor league free agent)
- Kyle Lobstein (veteran minor league free agent)
- James Naile (fringe Triple-A prospect)
- Parker Dunshee (intriguing prospect who dominated Double-A)
- Brian Howard (intriguing prospect who succeeded in Double-A)