MILWAUKEE -- Here’s another layer to add to Zach Davies' latest pitching performance for the Brewers: He was sick.
Not clinging-to-his-senses sick, but sick nonetheless.The Brewers’ bullpen was thin on Sunday vs. the Mets, after covering the final 12 2/3 innings of an 18-inning victory the night before. Milwaukee had the right man on the mound in Davies, the team’s most reliable starter this season, but he woke up feeling under the weather. He powered through, delivering 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 win that completed a three-game sweep.
The illness set in the following day, and while Davies was still returning to full strength as of this week, he had no intentions of missing his turn against the Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field, in what should be a charged-up series.
“Everything will be good for Saturday,” said Davies, who will be pitching on an extra day of rest. “I never was worried about [missing his last start]. I knew all I needed was a good breakfast, lots of liquids, and I would be fine. …
“I wasn’t not going to pitch. We had a tough schedule. I was physically able to go out there and pitch. The next day, it hit me pretty hard.”
Davies was more than fine, holding the Mets to two runs on six hits while carrying the Brewers within four outs of the finish, which in turn helped recharge the bullpen for its next series against the Nationals. Davies’ 118 pitches marked the first time a Brewers starter topped 110 since Davies’ own outing in July 2017, and tied for the fourth-most in MLB this season. Former Brewer Mike Fiers pushed Davies down the list with a 131-pitch no-hitter for the A’s on Tuesday night.
“I think everybody in the room wants to keep the ball, and hopefully pitch into that eighth and ninth inning when they have the chance,” Davies said.
With analytics driving decisions these days, and bullpens taking over before a starting pitcher can navigate a lineup a third or fourth time, outings of that length are becoming rare. Sunday’s bullpen situation, coming off 18 innings the night before and Chase Anderson’s last-minute scratch several days before that, presented an exception. Does Davies think it might buy him similar trust in subsequent starts?
“I hope so,” he said. “It just depends how the game is going.”
Fiers mentions his Brewers roots
While the Brewers seek their first no-hitter since Juan Nieves’ in 1987, Fiers fired his second no-no as a former Brewer on Tuesday, adding to his 2015 no-hitter for the Astros, which came soon after Milwaukee traded him to Houston. After completing the feat again on Tuesday night, Fiers fought back tears while thinking back to his baseball roots, including being the Brewers’ 22nd-round Draft pick in 2009.
“It’s pretty cool. I’m just grateful to be here,” Fiers said. “I wasn’t too high on the charts. I was a guy throwing 88-90 mph down in South Florida, so I was one in a million down there. I want to thank Charlie Sullivan, a Milwaukee Brewers scout, for giving me the opportunity and putting in a good word. My coaches, family, friends, everybody who has stuck with me.
“You almost get emotional. I could be working a nine-to-five job, doing so many other things. Playing this game that I love, I’m just blessed.”
Sullivan, whose other signees include former Brewers pitcher Jorge Lopez and Brewers No. 14 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, Mario Feliciano, worked for the Brewers through 2017. Sullivan is now is an international scout for the Giants.
• Beginning a rehab assignment, right-hander Aaron Wilkerson threw five scoreless innings for Triple-A San Antonio on Tuesday night. He allowed three hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Wilkerson is eligible to return from the 10-day injured list (bruised left foot) on Friday, but it’s not clear whether the Brewers intend to activate him immediately.
• Former Brewers infielder Bill Spiers is a football coach these days -- an assistant at Clemson. So he brought along a rather famous friend Wednesday, Tigers head coach, Dabo Swinney. The duo combined for a ceremonial first pitch prior to the Nationals-Brewers series finale at Miller Park before spending some time in the broadcast booth during the game. Clemson has won the College Football Playoff National Championship twice in the past three years.