On June 4th of this past year I drove from Fort Collins, CO to Scranton, ND for my wedding. Thanks to a wonderfully strong 850 KOA signal, I listened to entirety of the game between the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks as I drove (a 4-0 Rockies victory).
As far as the Rockies are concerned, things were so much better then. The season was not hopeless. I dared to get my hopes up that this team might be OK this season, and therefore I was excited about the possibilities for former first round pick Christian Friedrich. On that night the left handed starter threw 7 shutout innings in a 4-0 victory. The grittiness with which Friedrich approaches the game, from the way he pitches to the way he stares in for his signs to the way he walks off the mound, came through the static of the radio in my Ford Fusion as I navigated the highways of Wyoming and South Dakota. I thought to myself…
…this is the kind of pitcher the Rockies need!
Friedrich’s season eventually succumbed to the same disappointments of the Rockies’ season as a whole. In a campaign shortened by a stress fracture in his lower back, Friedrich went 5-8 with a 6.17 ERA. Most disappointing was his performance at home. His Coors Field ERA was 8.92; his Coors Field WHIP was 1.881; 10 of the 14 home runs he surrendered this season sailed out of Coors Field.
Still, as we sound the panic alarms about the starting rotation in 2013, we ought to remember the positive signs we saw from Friedrich. It is one thing to have first round talent, and he showed signs that the Rockies were right to think that he has that. It is another thing to have the right approach to the game. Christian Friedrich showed glimpses of a guy who has the thick skin and the tough mentality to pitch effectively in a Major League rotation.
It is pure speculation from the perspective from which I watch and cover the Rockies, but I do not think Friedrich’s issues at home are the result of a mental block. I think he will improve his results at Coors Field, and any measure of improvement in that regard should make him a solid contributor in the middle of the Colorado rotation.
Where should Friedrich be in 2013? With the Colorado Rockies in the #3 or #4 spot in the starting rotation.
Where will Friedrich be in 2013? With the Colorado Rockies, and his rotation spot depends on how he performs in the Spring Training competition.