By now, we all likely know the major league story of Mike Fiers (1-2, 5.93 ERA, 6.78 FIP). Great start to his career in 2012, but fell apart in August and seemingly has not been able to get major league batters out since. Started this season in the rotation, but was removed after his first (bad) start. Got sent to the minors, but came back up when Tom Gorzelanny went to the disabled list.
Now he's back in the starting rotation with Kyle Lohse having his start skipped due to discomfort in his elbow. It will probably be just a one-start thing, and Fiers has the good fortune of facing the Pirates. Hopefully the last series between the two teams isn't a sign that things are changing.
Fiers has yet to face a Pirates hitter at least ten times.
For Pittsburgh, Jeff Locke (4-1, 2.73 ERA, 4.49 FIP) is the Pirates' starter who is having a good year but will inevitably falter in the second half of the season. Seriously, for the last few years isn't that how it has gone for the Pirates? They keep making these runs for the NL Central crown, or .500, or whatever and they look really good in the first half. Usually because their pitching is over-performing, especially one specific pitcher (James McDonald 2012, Charlie Morton 2011). Then everything goes to hell in the second half of the season and they fall a few games short of .500 for the xth time in a row. Remember when they Brewers crumbled in the second half of 2007 and missed the playoffs? The Pirates are doing that every year and with a lesser goal.
Jeff Locke isn't very good, but he is pitching well right now and probably still will for another, oh, month or two. The guy was never hot stuff in the minors, and he was never that great in brief stints in the majors in the past. He puts up decent peripheral numbers, but gets hit hard. So sure, he threw seven shutout innings with just three hits against him in his last outing. That's nice. It was against the Astros, but that's nice. He had the exact same pitching line against the Cardinals earlier in the year, right down to the same number of walks (2) and strikeouts (4). He gave up two hits in six shutout innings against the Phillies before that St. Louis outing. But he'll regress soon.
Locke has never faced a Brewers hitter ten times.
As of yet, I have not seen the lineup. If you have, feel free to post it in the comments.
In the bullpen:
- Brandon Kintzler pitched 0.2 innings (12 pitches) last night.
- Mike Gonzalez pitched 0.1 innings (6 pitches) last night.
- Jim Henderson pitched 0.2 innings (12 pitches) last night and left the game with an injury.
- Francisco Rodriguez pitched 0.1 innings (2 pitches) last night.
- Alfredo Figaro pitched 3.1 innings (60 pitches) on Wednesday.
- Burke Badenhop pitched two innings (22 pitches) on Wednesday.
- John Axford last pitched on Tuesday.
- Tom Gorzelanny was activated off the DL yesterday and hasn't pitched since May 7.