Colorado Rockies morning after: Ryan Feltner falters, Julian Fernández shines then falters in their debuts

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5: Relief pitcher Julian Fernandez #30 of the Colorado Rockies delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field on September 5, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. Fernandez is making his Major League debut. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5: Relief pitcher Julian Fernandez #30 of the Colorado Rockies delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field on September 5, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. Fernandez is making his Major League debut. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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DENVER – The Colorado Rockies attempted to usher in a new era of pitchers for the franchise on Sunday as they called right-handed pitcher Ryan Feltner up from Double-A Hartford before the game but he did not have a banner afternoon at Coors Field.

Feltner, who turned 25 on Thursday, was rocked six runs (all earned) in just 2 2/3 innings. Things were bad for him at the get-go as Ozzie Albies leadoff and hit a home run to right field on the first pitch of the game.

“My main focus today was to pound the zone, be aggressive in the zone,” Feltner said. “I did that for the most part. Obviously, the first pitch of the game, I’m just trying to get a strike over and, and he connected with it — hats off to him.”

Per the Rockies PR team, the last time a starting pitcher gave up a home run on the first pitch of his MLB debut was August 5, 2019, when Miami’s Robert Dugger allowed a leadoff first-pitch homer to the Mets’ Jeff McNeil.

While Feltner did not get the results that he wanted, he showed Rockies manager Bud Black enough that with his pitch mix and makeup, he wants to see more of him in the stretch run of the season.

Colorado Rockies reliever Julian Fernández was great in his first inning but struggled in his second inning.

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Colorado Rockies reliever Julian Fernández was lighting up the radar gun and Rockies fans on social media. In his first inning of work, he retired the side on eight pitches.

Only one of those pitches was not a fastball (a 92 MPH sinker). The other seven were 99.7 MPH or faster. Fernández’s fastest pitch was 102.4 MPH.

According to Statcast, it was tied for the seventh-fastest pitch in baseball in 2021. In addition, it is the fastest pitch that has ever been thrown by a Rockies pitcher in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), per Statcast. His two pitches that were 101.4 are now the second- and third-fastest pitches by a Rockies pitcher in that same span. Previously, Daniel Bard and Carlos Estévez were tied for the Rockies leader in the highest velocity on a pitch as they both were tracked at 101.3.

However, he was lit up in a different way as, with his velocity down slightly, the Braves connected for three hits and three runs, including a two-run homer by Austin Riley.

As Bud Black said postgame, the Rockies will be using some rookies (like Feltner and Fernández) in the waning weeks of the season to see what they have in them and to see who should and who should not be part of the major league team in 2022. Some of those players not in the picture for the 2022 Rockies may need more time in the minors or they could be released.

“This was the first game of two young men’s careers who will hopefully span a long time,” said Bud Black. “But the trick is to learn from it, process it, and move forward each and every day.”

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The Rockies will face the San Francisco Giants in a 2:10 PM M.T. game on Labor Day. The game will be televised locally but also on ESPN. Colorado native Kevin Gausman will face fellow Colorado native Kyle Freeland, who was pulled from his last start in Texas after 1+ inning after a left hip impingement.

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