WASHINGTON -- Despite worsening numbers amidst the heaviest workload of his young career, Mike Fiers will remain in the Brewers' rotation -- for now.
After Fiers lasted only three innings and surrendered three runs on five hits in the Brewers' sweep-clinching 9-7 win over the Pirates on Thursday, existing concerns about the 27-year-old's innings count persisted. Between Triple-A Nashville and Milwaukee, Fiers has thrown 172 1/3 innings this season. In 2011, he threw only 128 innings, plus an additional 28 1/3 in a Venezuela Winter League to bring him to 154 1/3 for the year.
Fiers pitched to a 1.77 ERA over his first 10 starts this season, but over his most recent 10, his ERA has gone from 1.88 on Aug. 1 to 3.38.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, however, denied that Fiers was struggling through any fatigue. Roenicke also said he hasn't talked with general manager Doug Melvin about the possibility of shutting Fiers down, "which tells me that he's going to keep pitching."
"I talked to [Fiers on Friday]. He doesn't think it's anything physical," Roenicke added. "That's what's bothering him. He says, 'Why am I throwing the ball all over the place now?' So it's either the thought process or something mechanically out of whack.
"He says it's not fatigue. Again, you ask guys things, sometimes they tell you everything and sometimes they don't. I believe when he tells me he's fine."
Facing questions regarding Fiers' rising pitch count and diminishing innings totals per game -- Fiers hasn't pitched more than five innings in any of his four starts since Aug. 29 -- Roenicke noted that Thursday's start was the young pitcher's worst to date. If Fiers can focus on getting through at least the fifth inning, the Brewers' skipper believes his bullpen is deep enough to keep Milwaukee in contention.
"I'm OK if he only goes five right now. We've got enough arms in the bullpen. I'm OK with that, if [his starts] are not five runs. If he goes five innings and gives up two [runs], I'm fine with it. Heck, I'll take that for the next three [starts], that's fine."
Brewers acquire catcher Torrealba from Blue Jays
WASHINGTON -- Seeking additional flexibility as they make a late push for the National League's final Wild Card spot, the Brewers acquired catcher Yorvit Torrealba from the Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for cash.
Torrealba will be in uniform wearing No. 3 for the Brewers on Saturday, their second of four games against the Nationals this weekend at Nationals Park.
The 34-year-old catcher played just 10 games for Toronto, batting .214 (6-for-28) with one homer. He spent the start of the season with the Rangers, for whom he hit .236 with three homers in 49 contests.
"It makes us more flexible with what we can do," Brewers coach Ron Roenicke said. "If I want to pinch-hit one of our other catchers early, I feel good doing it. If I want to pinch-run for one of them, we can do it. So it definitely gives us more flexibility."
Torrealba joins Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado as the third catcher on the Brewers' active roster. The veteran backstop has played in the postseason with the Giants (2003), Rockies ('07 and '09) and Rangers ('11) during a 12-year career spent with six teams. He would not be eligible for postseason play should the Brewers qualify, however.
Milwaukee entered Friday's action 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
"We think that it can make a difference; not that it will, but it can make a difference," Roenicke said. "Sometimes you think something is needed, but then you end up and you don't need it at all. So we'll see.
"We've put ourselves in a position where if we play great ball through the rest of the season, we've got a legitimate shot."
Hart out of lineup Friday, will return Saturday
WASHINGTON -- Corey Hart came through his return to the Brewers' lineup on Thursday just fine, though he was not in the starting lineup for the series opener with the Nationals on Friday.
Hart returned Thursday from an eight-game absence due to an injury to his left arch, but manager Ron Roenicke wants to make sure the Brewers' first baseman is as healthy as possible for Nats left-hander Gio Gonzalez on Saturday. Hart played the first 4 1/2 innings of Thursday's 9-7 win over the Pirates before being pulled for Travis Ishikawa prior to the bottom of the fifth. He finished 1-for-3, hitting a line-drive single in the first.
Hart's return to Milwaukee's lineup is critical, as it boosts the power in the heart of the lineup with Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez at the three-hole and cleanup spots. In 138 games this season, Hart is batting .278 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs.
"I was happy with the outcome [on Thursday]," Hart said. "I'll take it easy, but I'll be in there for the next three [games]."
Roenicke did say he got several texts from Hart earlier on Friday trying to talk his way into the lineup, but with the Brewers making a furious push to challenge the Cardinals for the National League's final Wild Card spot, Hart is too valuable to play around with.
After the Cardinals lost to the Cubs earlier on Friday, the Brewers entered Friday's game with the Nats with a chance to climb just 1 1/2 games back.
"I explained it to him that Saturday's an important game, with a left-hander," Roenicke said, adding that Hart was available to pinch-hit Friday, if necessary. "If I play him five, six innings today and he comes up sore and he can't play tomorrow, it's probably not very smart.
"If he's fine after [Saturday], he'll probably play against the right-handers."
Hart's injury is technically a partial tear to the plantar fascia, the tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. While running in a straight line hasn't been an issue, Hart said the most pain he feels is turning to cover first base on defense.
"I'm sitting there, waiting for the ball, all of a sudden it's hit and I've got to beat the guy and turn [for the throw], so that kind of hurts," Hart said. "The defense is still going to be tough, and I want to be comfortable late in the game having to do that."
Carlos Gomez was in the Brewers' lineup for Friday's series opener with the Nationals despite fouling a ball off his left foot in Thursday's game against the Pirates. X-rays taken after the game were negative, and while Gomez was sore, he wasn't expected to be slowed.
"He's doing good. Enough that he's back in there," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He took a blow, the X-rays came out negative. He's going to be sore today, but he says he's going to play."
Though the Brewers entered their four-game set at the Nationals with a 31-43 road record, they were 4-0-1 over their last five road series. That included a 12-5 mark over their previous 17 road games.
Norichika Aoki carried a 10-game hitting streak into the series with the Nationals. Milwaukee's right fielder has also enjoyed a separate 10-game streak this season, along with streaks of 15 and 13.
Mike Fiammetta is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.