Christian Friedrich is not the same pitcher he was in AA. That is apparent by anyone who can read a stat line, but also one who evaluates the pitching process. David Oh No, former Purple Row writer, has watched Friedrich from his Tulsa residence for two years:
"Simply put, Friedrich had this type of stuff maybe once in Tulsa, the exhibition against the Rox. Other than that, rarely threw CB in zone. In Tulsa, Friedrich was over-reliant on a FB at 88-91 with little movement. Tried to pound it and got lit up. Now, Stuff looks like the pitcher he showed he was in his draft video. Seen him poor too much to not be skeptical, but stuff is way superior now. He (actually) looks bigger to me now. Much more physical. Always had a good build, has a great one now." - David Oh No
In striking out 10 last night against one walk, Friedrich's box score is awfully sexy.In his first two MLB starts, he has struck out 17 and allowed two earned runs, one on a cheap bloop hit and one on a solo home run.
|2012 - Christian Friedrich||1-0||2||2||0||0||0||0||13.0||11||3||2||1||2||17||1.38||1.00|
His performances have been quick and dominant, but what is impressive is not just the results against two poor offenses. It is the process that is so impressive.
Friedrich has commanded a fastball with increased velocity from years' past, mixed in a deep curve ball and had success with a slider and change-up. He has responded to bad luck on the mound with poise and filled up the strike zone. The transformation from a pitcher outside the top ten on the rotation depth chart to what he has accomplished in all of 2012 is stunning.
I have, and it's shocking. RT @PoseidonsFist: @Kevin_Goldstein have you watched any Christian Friedrich v2012?— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) May 15, 2012
The cynic will point to PetCo and AT&T Park, the Padres and Giants offense and of course, SSS. But Andy Parrino and Charlie Culberson did not help Friedrich gain velocity or command. We certainly can be excited about Friedrich's transformation, but that does not mean such excitement requires the duality of proclaiming him ace material.
What Friedrich becomes going forward will be interesting to see. He most certainly has earned at least two more starts. After PetCo Park and AT&T Park, his assignments get progressively more challenging. He is slated for his first Coors Field start Saturday against the Mariners. Then he faces a talented offense in Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see how he fares at Coors Field.
It is obviously too early to proclaim Christian Friedrich the savior of the Rockies' rotation, but his transformation (including stuff, AAA starts, spring training starts) is the Rockies' best storyline in 2012 and deserves to be celebrated. He may never be an ace, but he has given Rockies fans reason to believe he can be a solid-mid-rotation starter.