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.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.