Where do Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers go from here?
They're intriguing assets that should retain a rotation spot, but each has tangible drawbacks that will bite back this year, especially since they call Miller Park home and saw big workload increases.
Estrada's role finally fell into the starter majority, and the skills pay-off translated nicely, especially in the punch-out column; he maintained an above-average swinging-strike rate even while increasing his workload. He's not a flamethrower, but he boasts a diverse arsenal that buckles plenty of knees and causes premature trigger pulls; his advancement in his opponents' overall chase frequency spelled out this approach's success.
There's enough here to justify a late-mixed flier, but don't overspend. Can he nurture a trend with his supreme diamond-pop-up pace so that it continues offsetting his fly-ball concerns? His strike-zone offerings felt connections at their highest rate in the last three years; if his location falters, he'll pay for it. He'll have to keep getting ahead in counts to set things up; any drop-off there will also jeopardize his chances at another plus-K showing.
Fiers' velocity limitations, pitch diversity and first-strike plan mirror Estrada's. The former's deceptive motion recalls Josh Collmenter, who fell painfully back to this planet after a 2011 run of brilliance. Fiers showed similar warning signs that were hidden for the Arizona Diamondback. The Milwaukee righty was hit hard (28.2 percent liners), and if more of those turn into moon shots, his aerial persuasion won't be as kind this go-round. He still has a farm option left, as well, so he may go back to Nashville if he needs to straighten some things out.
Luckily, his curveball and changeup benefit from amplified trickery through his over-the-topitude, giving him more to work with than Collmenter possesses. If Fiers can extract more out of his cutter - MLB's chic pitch nowadays - he might even improve. There's little wrong with him as a roster-capping, dual-universe SP if no one else believes.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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