Alex White did well in his first start of 2012. Now it's Christian Friedrich's turn to impress.
I could easily go on at length about how bad the pitching has been this year (and it's been pretty terrible), but I'll boil it down to two stats for you to understand why Colorado desperately needs some good performances from its young pitchers.
First -- the Rockies are 5th in MLB in runs and have scored at least 4 runs 18 times already this season. That would put them on pace for 101 games scoring 4 or more this season (up from 81 last year). I know that number is skewed by having more games played to this point at Coors Field, but Colorado's offense is looking more potent this season. Last year, the Rockies were 58-23 (.716) when scoring 4 or more. This year, they are only 11-7 (.611) when the offense has had a good game. Colorado's pitching is wasting the excellent output from their hitters. Oh, and when they score less than 4, Colorado is 1-10.
Second -- the Rockies' starting pitching has not given the team much length at all. This is hardly news at this point, but Colorado's starters have only thrown 155 innings through 29 games (5.3 IP per game), worst in the NL and tied for 29th in MLB. To put that in perspective, the Phillies and Angels are getting 6.6 innings per start. That's 4 outs that inferior pitchers in the bullpen don't need to pick up every night. The extra work renders the bullpen even less effective as the season goes on, and the season crashes and burns. It isn't too late to turn this 2012 season around, but at this point that's where the trend is heading. Enter the young pitching.
Christian Friedrich will make his major league debut today, making him the 3rd 1st round pitcher in a row to start for the Rockies that was drafted in the last 4 years -- in reverse order no less (Drew Pomeranz 2010, Alex White 2009, Friedrich 2008). Too bad virtually nobody will be able to see it, as the debut will come in a midweek day game with no TV coverage. We'll have to rely on the radio team to tell us how Friedrich will be hit with a line drive in the leg, as the two first round picks who preceded him were.
In all seriousness, Friedrich couldn't have picked a much better game to start out his major league career, pitching in Petco against an anemic Padres offense on a getaway day. The lefty will be following a very good performance by White last night. White kept the ball down, had good command of his breaking pitches, and gave the Rockies good length (though Colorado lost its 5th straight). It's pretty sad that 6.1 IP counts as quality length from the rotation, but White's start was close to the longest by Colorado this year (I believe the longest is 7 innings to this point). Troy Renck writes that the Rockies' young pitchers need to show improvement this year.
Given what we've seen out of the rotation so far, there's definitely an opportunity for Friedrich to grab a major league rotation slot and hold onto it -- he just has to seize the excellent opportunity before him today.
The man I most associated with the Rockies (off the field) for the first dozen years or so passed away yesterday. Patrick Saunders has a great story about McMorris and you should check out Purple Row's own Rafael Rojas Cremonesi's piece and Thomas Harding's take as well on the man who saved baseball in Colorado.