The Rockies just aren’t having any luck with their starting pitchers. According to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, left-hander Christian Friedrich will miss the rest of the season due to a stress fracture on the right side of his lower spine.
Friedrich was was scratched from his scheduled start on Thursday due to back spasms, but hoped to return to the starting rotation Sunday. However, he continued to feel pain during a bullpen session yesterday and was sent for an MRI, which revealed the fracture.
Friedrich dropped off the radar in prospect circles in recent years due to a combination of injuries and poor performance, but he earned his first call-up to the big leagues in May after posting a 3.00 ERA and 27/4 K/BB ratio over his first five starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs. The 25-year-old southpaw allowed just two runs over his first two big league starts, but really struggled the rest of the way. He’ll finish off his rookie season with a 6.16 ERA over 16 starts. Among pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched, only former Rockie Jeremy Guthrie and Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn have a higher ERA this season.
Friedrich actually had pretty decent secondary numbers (7.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9), but he was hammered to the tune of an 8.92 ERA over eight starts at home while serving up 10 homers in 39 1/3 innings. He had a 3.77 ERA in eight starts on the road. Coors Field is unforgiving.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.