This afternoon, the Rockies will turn to LHP Christian Friedrich for a start. A former first round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft (25th overall), Friedrich will make his MLB Debut as a 24-year-old after posting a 3.00 ERA, 27 strikeouts, and 0.90 WHIP in 30 innings for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Friedrich showed a renewed commitment to the game this past offseason after back-to-back seasons at Double-A carrying ERAs above 5.00. Friedrich lost a good amount of weight, which he believes will lead to better mechanics.
"It was a good 30 pounds," he said. "When I was 240, I didn't have a gut or anything, it was just not what I'm used to doing. I just got on a good diet and practiced mechanics from day one. I just took it from day one with all my lifting and just thinking mechanics, mechanics, mechanics. So that once the season started, it was ingrained so I could stay with my core mechanics."
Friedrich also worked out with Phillies ace Cliff Lee this offseason.
"I went up there for a week and a half in January and watched [Lee's] program and watched him play catch and throw bullpens and everything," he said. "To learn about and see his work ethic and how he goes about his business is what he wanted me to see. To see what it takes to be a guy at his level."
It was not only a mental preparation, but also physical.
"We'd throw and we'd warm up and lift and before you know it four hours goes by," Friedrich. "He's one of the strongest guys I've ever been around. I knew he was strong, but I mean I'd look at him in uniform and he's like a cinder block from his forearm to his biceps."
The major takeaway for Friedrich appears to be throwing the ball with more downward plane, something he talked about at length.
"Downhill plane has always been something that's been preached to us and I thought I had it when I got here," he said. "I kind of lost it a little bit and just by watching him play catch I figured it out again. He said throw downhill and I don't know how many times I heard that, but watching how he throws downhill it just kind of clicked in my head.
He's real good about having a short and strong front side. He feels that's an easy way to repeat pitches. I just kept it going once I saw that, he does that little curl and now I just concentrate on throwing my wrist at the target. All of a sudden it starts to gain a second gear once it gets down there."
Hopefully, Friedrich will be able to provide a spark for the Rockies rotation as there isn't a rotation in the majors that could use said spark more. The Rockies have spent many a first round pick on starting pitchers, now that they graduated one to the big leagues it would certainly help if he could stabilize the rotation even for an afternoon.