Apr 20, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich (53) warms up in the bullpen during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
As the season gets underway, RoxPile.com is making some fun (but completely unqualified!) predictions about how members of the Colorado Rockies will fare this summer. In this edition: Christian Friedrich.
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Christian Friedrich failed as a starter for the Colorado Rockies after being drafted in the first round in 2008 and holding high expectations throughout his minor league tenure.
However, instead of busting completely, Friedrich took the time to reinvent himself as a solid left-handed relief pitcher, appearing in 13 games in 2014 and continuing his good work with the club this season.
Now, let’s see what we can expect from him this summer as he figures to be a central middle relief piece in the Rockies’ bullpen.
What The Numbers Say
FanGraphs lists various projection systems, which you can learn more about here.
The projection systems are divided on Friedrich, but only in the most bizarre of ways. For some reason, ZiPS believes he’s going to start (!!) 11 games this summer, and pitch poorly (an ERA above 5.00 with an FIP around 4.50). That… doesn’t make any sense considering some of the starters the Rockies (hopefully) have coming in their system and the fact that Friedrich has been pretty much permanently sent to the bullpen with good results.
Steamer and Depth Charts both believe Friedrich will end up throwing less than 50 games this summer, so none believe he will be with the team all season, though Steamer believes he’ll throw to sub 4.00 ERA and FIP numbers while striking out nearly 8 batters per nine innings.
Call to the Pen
I’ve written optimistically about the good work Friedrich is doing thus far this season, and overall as a reliever, and a best-case scenario would continue that work. As a lefty, Friedrich is going to have to continue to get left-handed hitters out in close games, and it’s certainly possible he could turn himself into a shut down match-up reliever that is so valuable for so many big league clubs.
Well, to be fair, Friedrich’s big league track record is… not good. Granted, that was as a starter and he is now relieving, but I suppose you do have to acknowledge the possibility that big league hitters will figure him out pretty quickly, no matter what point of the game he appears.
So, a worst-case scenario would involve more ineffectiveness as we saw from him as a starter in both 2012 and 2014, and that ineffectiveness would hurt the Rockies (especially if Rex Brothers never gets it worked out at AAA Albuquerque).
I like the way Friedrich has worked as a reliever thus far, and I think the combination of 13 relief appearances last year, a lights out Spring Training, and nine appearances this season is enough to prove that Friedrich is going to be good enough in the pen for the Rockies.
As is true with any reliever on this club, assuming starters can go deep enough into games and Friedrich won’t get overused or overexposed, I think he’ll have a nice year as a sixth/seventh inning middle reliever along side Brooks Brown in the Rockies’ bullpen.
Give us your predictions!