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.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.