Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mike Fiers seems to be settling into his new digs nicely. He tossed 5 1⁄3 strong innings for the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, leading them to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fiers struck out eight and didn’t allow a baserunner through his first four innings — dare I say, it was a nice impression of 2011 Doug Fister.
Most of all, Fiers looked the part of a pitcher who could help put the A’s back in the playoffs. The starting rotation has been Oakland’s biggest weakness this year, even if they still rank in the top half of AL teams in ERA. Now, Fiers joins a solid group of misfits that should be able to fend off the Seattle Mariners down the stretch.
Speaking of the playoffs...
If you haven’t been paying much attention, the American League playoff race is basically non-existent. There are just six teams with playoff odds above one percent this morning, and four of them are at 99 percent or better. The Mariners are projected to finish the season with 90 wins, but will still probably miss the postseason by a couple of games.
Meanwhile, the National League is a hot mess.
Yes, you are seeing seven teams within 5 1⁄2 games of the NL Wild Card race. Better yet, all three divisions are decided by fewer than two games at the moment, with two (the East and West) separated by just half a game. Seven teams have playoff odds of 35 percent or better, with three more still within striking distance (12 percent or better).
This should be fun.
Let’s talk about prospects!
The Tigers have been asking Beau Burrows to focus on developing his off-speed pitches. This might explain his lackluster results this season, though he still had a strong outing for the Erie SeaWolves on Wednesday. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News dove deeper into both Burrows and SeaWolves teammate Alex Faedo, who brushed off concerns about his fastball velocity.
It’s true his fastball is not busting bats. It cruises 88-92 mph and can hit 93. Erie’s pitching coach, Willie Blair, is among those working on Faedo’s posture, hoping a bit less crouch and more extension can add a tick or two to his heater.
“Everyone’s worried about his velocity,” said Graham, who is as weary as Faedo of hearing dark reports about a 22-year-old’s fastball. “But he’s very good when he’s keeping that fastball low and keeping them off-balance with his secondary stuff.
“The only thing you wish is that there would be more range between his fastball and his slider.”
Over in Toledo, Dawel Lugo knows his walk rate is a problem. So was his situational awareness on Wednesday.
OH MY GOD. ROCHESTER PULLED OFF THE HIDDEN BALL TRICK AGAINST THE MUD HENS TONIGHT. OH MY GOD. pic.twitter.com/jBKQ67Bhb8— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) August 9, 2018
Andy Dirks was on our podcast
You should listen to it.
Around the horn
Who will win the AL MVP this year? My bet is still on Mookie Betts. One unintended consequence of the shift? More walks. Grant Brisbee breaks out the BEANS scale again. Play-by-play analysis of clubhouse Mario Kart battles. The Washington Post got their own player’s nickname wrong. Scouts are impressed with Casey Mize. Tyler Glasnow already looks better with his new team. So does Chris Archer.