It was a rollercoaster of a game for Athletics starter Mike Fiers on Saturday. The right-hander sported an eye-catching “cat tail” beard that set social media ablaze when he stepped on the mound; by the second inning, however, he had something much more pressing to deal with: a worrisome case of right arm nerve irritation.
According to Fiers, he began to feel numbness in his right hand after throwing to Rougned Odor in the second — just three pitches before Odor launched a two-run, 436-foot home run to put the Rangers on the board. While Fiers later told reporters the sensation felt familiar and was mostly a mental issue, the A’s weren’t about to take any chances with their ace. They left him in to face Delino DeShields, who promptly drew a five-pitch walk, then removed him for Paul Blackburn.
Through Saturday’s outing, Fiers has spun a 14-4 record in 31 starts with a 4.09 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 6.1 SO/9, and 1.3 fWAR through 171 2/3 innings in 2019. It doesn’t seem like he’ll miss more than one turn in the rotation, though Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle points out that “nerve irritation” comprises a spectrum of minor and major injuries and accompanying treatments, from Brett Anderson‘s two-week stint on the injured list to Andrew Triggs‘ season-ending surgery. Where Fiers falls in that spectrum is still undetermined.
Until they have a clear idea of their starter’s recovery timetable, the A’s will turn to the other five hurlers in their six-man rotation as they keep moving toward an AL wild card spot. As for the right-hander, well, he’s playing it safe: