The Milwaukee Brewers officially announced that Mike Fiers has been optioned to Triple-A Nashville, and the organization subsequently promoted right-hander Hiram Burgos to the big-league club. Burgos is expected to get his first major-league start on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.
Last season, Burgos earned the Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in the organization. He began the year in High-A Brevard County and worked his way up to Triple-A Nashville, compiling an overall 1.95 ERA over 171.0 innings. The 25-year-old struck out 153 batters last year and only walked 49, which is indicative of his above-average command. With that extreme success, he vaulted himself into the consciousness of many Brewers fans.
Here is what Ryan wrote about Burgos prior to the season, after he and I ranked the right-hander Milwaukee’s 18th-best prospect:
It’s tempting, and far too easy, to compare Burgos to right-hander Mike Fiers. Both were drafted late, have limited fastball velocity and retire guys with a mix of offspeed offerings that can be thrown for strikes on any count. While the description does fit reasonably well with both players, the reality is that most players who fit that profile don’t jump into the majors and post the sort of numbers that Fiers did before September, so it’s best to keep expectations for both players in check. Burgos sits 89-91 mph with his fastball and also throws a cutter, curveball, and changeup. He will need to miss a lot of bats, though, and the drop in his strikeout rate when he made the jump to Triple-A Nashville is somewhat troubling, despite the small sample. He has a chance to pitch in the back-end of a big-league rotation, but his margin for error is going to be pretty small.
Through three starts with Triple-A Nashville, Burgos has started strong this season with a 2.70 ERA in 16.2 innings. He’s walked a few more than expected. Overall, though, it’s been a positive encore performance for Burgos, especially considering his strikeout rate has increased once again (8.1 K/9) after a brief dip upon reaching Triple-A last season (6.8 K/9).
His first major-league start will come against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. It projects to be a good introduction for Burgos because the Cubs have been relatively anemic at the plate this season. Coming into the day on Thursday, they had a combined .282 wOBA, which ranked 27th in Major League Baseball. They strike out a bunch and walk at a below-average clip. All in all, Hiram Burgos couldn’t ask for a better matchup to begin his major-league career with the Brewers.
The Brewers have optioned right-hander Mike Fiers to Triple-A Nashville to address his command issues that have plagued him throughout spring training and into the month of April. He currently owns an 8.59 ERA and has only struck out one batter in three appearances. Simply put, the pitcher who dominated the National League last summer suddenly vanished, and the Milwaukee Brewers want Fiers to rediscover that pitcher down in Nashville.
Fiers offered an encouraging perspective on Thursday afternoon to Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“Sending me to Nashville isn’t the worst thing in the world. I’ve still got to pitch well there and prove myself there and come back up and pitch again. So it’s on me to pitch well and get back up here as soon as possible.”
If Fiers can replicate his Triple-A performance from last season, in which he posted a 3.98 FIP and had a 8.02 K/9 strikeout rate, it seems likely that he will return to the Brewers’ staff before the end of the season. Whether that’s in the starting rotation or the bullpen, however, will completely depend on Burgos’ performance and how well the Brewers can avoid the injury bug with their pitchers.