In April, I sat in the stands at Security Service Field, not far from Tyler Matzek and Christian Bergman charting pitches it turns out, with my brother and his fiancee watching the Sky Sox play the Iowa Cubs. On the mound for Colorado Springs that chilly evening was a lefty none of us had ever heard of named Yohan Flande.
Watching Flande against Iowa that night, it suffices to say that no one in our group walked away impressed by the 28-year-old. In fact, at one point my brother turned to me and said, "This guy is terrible, how is he even in Triple-A?" I looked back at him and replied, "I don't know, but the good news is we'll never have to see him pitch in the big leagues. If for some reason we do, it will be because something went horribly, horribly wrong."
Two months later, something had gone horribly, horribly wrong and there was Flande on the mound at Coors Field taking on the Cardinals in a game that would end in a 9-6 loss for the Rockies.
Flande made 16 appearances for the Rockies in 2014, 10 of which were starts. He pitched 59 innings in his first major league season, posting a 5.19 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, allowing 55 hits, walking 16 and striking out 34.
None of his 10 starts were really that terrible, he never gave up more than five runs in any of them, but none of them were all that good either as he mixed in just two quality starts and did not pick up a single win in 2014. Flande's best start as a big leaguer came in Chicago on June 28, as he held the Cubs to two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out eight. His other quality start came at Petco Park on August 12, and quality starts at Petco need asterisks as badly as three-hit games at Coors Field.
Where Flande really excelled was in a relief role. He came out of the bullpen six times in 2014, five of his relief appearances coming in September. Flande did not allow a run as a reliever, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out four in six shutout innings out of the bullpen.
Flande did post an impressive FIP of 4.00 and an xFIP of 3.79, but striking out just 5.19 batters per nine innings does not bode well for long-term success as a starter at the major league level.
2014 Grade: D
A 5.19 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and no wins can't even be considered average, but Flande did exceed my expectations for him and pitched well out of the bullpen, so he avoids the dreaded F.
What to expect in 2015
Given his strong outings in relief in 2014, Flande may have a chance at a spot in the Rockies bullpen next season, probably as a LOOGY-type. I certainly would not expect to see him start games for the Rockies in 2015.