It had been that way since high school, when few colleges showed much interest in the right-hander out of Deerfield Beach(Fla.) High School. Without many options, he ended up at small Broward College before transferring to the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky, where he was headed back to early on that January morning.
While the majority of Fiers' starts came when the Brewers looked to be out of the playoff picture completely, Friday's outing vs. the Mets will take place in the midst of a late-season surge by Milwaukee. Since being swept by the Rockies in the middle of August, the Brewers have gone 20-7 and headed into their off-day Thursday just three games back for the second National League Wild Card spot.And it's exactly how Fiers wants it to be. "That's one of the reasons you play this game -- to play in front of thousands of fans," Fiers said. "Having the game on the line, it's fun. It's kind of indescribable. It's what you live for." For much of the season, Fiers was one of the club's few bright spots. He went 5-4 with just a 1.88 ERA in his first 11 starts. Much like he has his whole career, Fiers had his share of doubters at the time. Many wondered if his success was the result of his deceiving delivery and opposing teams' unfamiliarity with him. Fiers heard what some people thought of his abilities, but that wasn't new for him. "That stuff helps me," Fiers said. "I heard a bunch of that. I faced all these teams for the first time and people said, 'Oh, what's going to happen when you see them again?' The Reds were coming, and I was like, 'We'll see.' It was kind of like, 'Just wait until I pitch against them, then give your comments and say what you feel about it.' I had that in the back of my mind, and it just pushed me to do better." In that Aug. 7 game against the Reds, Fiers threw six perfect innings before giving up a hit in the seventh. He earned the 3-1 win after surrendering one run on three hits in eight innings and proved he wasn't a fluke. "I think he's shown that he can pitch," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said after the game. Fiers is still a bright spot, but he's not the only one. Not long ago, the Crew had been written off by most pundits, but the team's promising young pitcher was not included among the doubters. "I just saw it -- if we put it together, we could play with anyone," Fiers said. "It's showing now. I'm glad it's coming around, and it looks like I wasn't just talking." Last month, when Fiers was asked about what his strong pitching meant for his chances of making the rotation next year, he dismissed the thought because he still had a job to do this season. That mentality has paid off, but president of baseball operations and general manager Doug Melvin was more willing to talk about the future. "[Fiers has] shown us that he probably deserves to be in the rotation," Melvin said. "That's a big plus. The tough part is always staying at [a high] level in this game. There's not a whole lot of guys that can do that consistently." Although Melvin wasn't doubting the right-hander, Fiers could take Melvin's comments as a challenge. Judging by Fiers' past, that's very likely. "It's just motivation for me," Fiers said. "I just have to do whatever I can. I have to pitch and put up good numbers and just try to do very well. I feel like I can pitch at this level, and I can pitch well. So now that I'm here, I'm just trying to work hard to stay here and prove everyone wrong."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.