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.
With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.
Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.
After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.