Fiers keeps pace with rotation competition

Astros right-hander throws two scoreless innings to match Feldman, Fister

Fiers keeps pace with rotation competition

TAMPA, Fla. -- With veterans Scott Feldman and Doug Fister having each thrown two scoreless innings in their Grapefruit League debuts with the Astros in recent days, right-hander Mike Fiers took his first turn and matched his rotation competition with two scoreless frames in Monday's 1-0 win over the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Fiers, who's competing with Feldman and Fister for the final two spots in the rotation, threw 21 of his 32 pitches for strikes and allowed two hits and a walk.

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He's been working on a slider and threw a couple to right-handers.

"It feels good to face another team, face some hitters in the box and just get after it and play against a different jersey instead of the live BPs and bullpens," Fister said. "I felt really good and it was just good to get back out there."

Fiers was facing a stacked Yankees lineup that included Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann.

"As a pitcher, you want that," he said. "You want to pitch to their best, you want to see the swings and pitch off that. It was a good day overall and just another stepping stone."

Fiers, 30, went 7-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 31 games (30 starts) combined last year with the Brewers and Astros, who acquired him and outfielder Carlos Gomez in a July trade. With the Astros, Fiers was 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 10 games (nine starts), including an Aug. 21 no-hitter against the Dodgers that showcased his electrifying stuff.

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He doesn't have as much experience as Feldman and Fister, and Fiers appreciates their veteran leadership as opposed to considering himself in a battle with them.

"You can watch how they work and how they go about their business and their preparation going into games," he said. "Just with all those guys, even [Collin] McHugh and [Dallas] Keuchel and [Lance] McCullers, I love to watch all the starters and watch the bullpens when I can. To have those two veteran guys on our staff, it helps out that much more."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.