BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
So much for this idea about Drew Pomeranz being a catalyst to the Rockies’ pursuit of winning the NL West.
He has pitched poorly in his four starts with the Rockies.
After last night’s awful performance by Pomeranz, Rockies manager Walt Weiss did not offer an endorsement about his struggling starter staying in the rotation when he talked about his team’s 3-1 loss to the Marlins last night at Coors Field.
Who can blame him? Pomeranz is an automatic loss when he is on the mound. He has command problems. He has nothing on his fastball. He has a body language of a pitcher that does not want to be on the mound by the way he sulks when he is pitching.
Not only should he not be in the rotation, but he should be traded. He’s a lost cause.
Pomeranz has been afflicted with paralysis by analysis. The team has come up with so many ways to change his mechanics that he is scared to throw. He doesn’t know how to pitch as a result.
It’s bad enough he is a headcase on the mound as he thinks too much when he pitches. He needs to throw. The Rockies are not helping him by changing his mechanics. Now, he has no idea what he is doing on the mound.
It’s hard to believe it’s going to get better. He is not a fit at Coors Field. He does not have the secondary pitches to be successful. He is a guy that throws at high-80s at best, which is a recipe for disaster.
Pomeranz can’t apply whatever he is learning from the pitching coaches.
There comes a point the Rockies must give up on him.
One has to think the Rockies will demote Pomeranz to the minors again, but what’s the point? He wasn’t that great in the minors to begin with. He gave up 40 runs and 83 hits while giving up 33 walks in 85 2/3 innings at Colorado Springs. How is he going to straighten himself in the minors when he has proven he can’t pitch in that level? It’s remarkable why the Rockies called him up in the first place.
The Rockies will stick with Pomeranz because they would admit they messed up in what they received in return for Ubaldo Jimenez. They already traded Alex White after he flopped with them.
They will stick with their beleaguered starter since they don’t want to be known as a franchise that can’t develop starting pitching.
At this point, it shouldn’t matter how they would be perceived. The Rockies would compound their mistake by sticking with him.
They can talk all they want about Tyler Chatwood figuring it out after struggling for awhile with the Rockies as they cite their reason to sticking with Pomeranz.
The problem with that thinking is Chatwood’s problems turned out to be mechanical, not mental. With Pomeranz, it’s mechanical and mental.
Until Pomeranz realizes he has to throw rather than nibble on the mound, it’s not going to work out.
It’s hard to think that will happen with him as long as he is pitching with the Rockies. He’s scared to pitch at Coors Field as it is. Once a pitcher is scared to pitch at that ballpark, he is a lost cause. Look at the long list of guys that let the stadium get to them in Darryl Kile, Denny Neagle, Jamey Wright, Jeremy Guthrie and others to name a few.
For Pomeranz’s own good, the Rockies should trade him.
They shouldn’t ruin his career by having him fail to the point he will be out in the majors in due time. He should be able to succeed in another organization.
The Rockies can talk about Pomeranz making adjustments in the minors for the umpteenth time, but what’s the point? They tried all they could to straighten him out with no success.
Sooner or later, they can’t do the insanity approach of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results from Pomeranz.
Shame on the Rockies if they let him make his next start. It would mean there’s no accountability for bad performance after every start. It would mean the team is sacrificing wins just so he can learn on the job. It’s not fair for the players that are busting it for the Rockies. It’s not fair for the fans to watch.
Pomeranz has no business pitching in the majors, and he has no business being in the organization anymore.
It’s time for this futile experiment to end.
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BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
Last night proved Yankees radio announcer John Sterling’s point about how no one can predict baseball.
Not only did the Rockies score runs against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, but they received a great pitching performance from Juan Nicasio last night in their 3-0 victory over the Dodgers.
It was something no one expected. Not even the Rockies thought this would happen if one puts a truth serum on them.
Nicasio was the only one that expected to pitch a great performance.
Obviously, something clicked when he made his two starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He figured out how to throw strikes by hitting the corners, and that’s why he knew he was going to pitch well when he made his start against the Dodgers.
Nicasio applied what he learned from the minors in last night’s game. He was ahead of the count, and that helped him avoid being in jams and minimize his pitch count. It was good enough for him to pitch seven innings of shutout baseball while giving up three hits against the Dodgers.
From watching the game, it was like watching a different pitcher.
Nicasio pitched with a purpose, and he gave a good feeling that he was going to put on a great performance after watching him in the third inning.
To say this was his best performance of his career is an understatement.
If nothing else, Nicasio gave the Rockies something to think about.
There’s no question he is going to make his next start with Roy Oswalt being on the 15-day disabled list.
If Nicasio does well in his next three starts, he is going to be in the rotation. There is no question about it.
For all intents and purposes, this is an audition.
The Rockies should hope Nicasio keeps this up. He is an upgrade over Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz.
The Rockies thought Oswalt would make the starting rotation better, but that hasn’t been the case. He is 0-4 with a 7.64 ERA in four starts. He gave up 29 hits, and he has only gone past the fifth inning only once. He basically has nothing when he is pitching on the mound.
It is hard to be optimistic about Oswalt pitching well when he hasn’t showed he could.
It was too much to ask for Oswalt to do well. He is not the pitcher he was in his prime during his Astros days. His fastball has no bite anymore, and he has been hittable. He has been on a decline for the last two years.
The Rockies can’t trot Oswalt as they move forward.
Pomeranz has been underwhelming in his three starts since he was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs. He is 0-3, and he has given up 12 runs and 19 hits. He continues to display command problems on the mound. He has not gone past the fourth inning at all.
He is so bad that Nicasio is an upgrade over him. That speaks volumes when one realizes Nicasio has not been good prior to last night’s start.
Fortunately for Pomeranz, the Rockies will have him start, so that they can see if he gets better as the season progresses. They have to find out if he is in their long-term plans.
For Nicasio, he feels he is better than Oswalt and Pomeranz. He should feel that way considering his fastball is much better than anything Oswalt and Pomeranz throw.
One thing about Nicasio is he will battle. He has the moxie to get out of jams when he has to. What he has to do is find a way to go deep in games. That has been his problem as he is done once the fifth inning starts.
Last night should be encouraging for Nicasio. He can build from this performance. Pitching is all about confidence, so if he continues to apply what he did in the minors, he is going to be in good shape.
If he reinvents himself, the Rockies have another reliable starter.
The Rockies are going to have a hard time getting a starter in the trade market. They have nothing to offer from their farm system, and they are not willing to pick up a salary of an expensive pitcher.
That’s why the Rockies are hoping for Nicasio to finally figure it out. That’s why they hope last night is a start of something good.
If Tyler Chatwood, Jhoulys Chacin and Nicasio continue to throw quality starts, the Rockies have themselves a legitimate starting rotation with Jorge De La Rosa being a sure thing. That would be good enough to help them be a factor in the mediocre NL West race.
This is why what Nicasio did last night has the Rockies feeling giddy. But he has to show he can sustain this.
Throwing a quality start is nice, but it’s going to mean nothing if he can’t do it several times.
Nicasio is getting a second chance to show he should stay in the starting rotation. He knows he has to make the most of it with the idea he can stick around.
Time will tell if last night was a harbinger of what he can do.
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BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
The Rockies can’t be delusional to think their starting rotation is good enough for them to qualify for the playoffs.
They don’t have a starter that can dominate every fifth day, and they don’t have a starter that will go seven innings a start.
What they need to do is acquire an ace this summer if the Rockies want to be a playoff team.
To expect Tyler Chatwood, Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz to be an upgrade is too much to ask. They are pitchers that last five or six innings, and that’s it.
The Rockies need to find someone that is better, and that would be acquiring either Cliff Lee, Matt Garza or Ricky Nolasco.
Lee is going to be tough to get. The Phillies would ask for a ransom, and they are not in a rush to trade him since he is a free agent after the 2015 season. They can trade him in the offseason or next summer’s trade deadline.
Getting Garza or Nolasco is feasible since they are free agents at the end of the year, so there won’t be a ransom for either of them.
Nolasco would be the best option for the Rockies.
He can be counted on for quality starts. He has a better command when he is out on the mound. He goes seven innings when he is out there.
He is everything that a Rockie starter aspires to be.
He is the type of starter that knows he can win every fifth day. It’s that type of mindset that can make a difference in the Rockies’ rotation.
They should do whatever it takes to get him.
If Pomeranz is what the Marlins want for Nolasco, that deal should be made now.
As good as Pomeranz is, it remains to be seen if he has the mindset to pitch in the altitude. He certainly has the stuff, but one wonders if he can trust his stuff to pitch.
When he started last year, he was thinking too much, and he was nibbling rather than attacking the strike zone.
He hasn’t made progress the Rockies thought he would in spring training.
It’s interesting the Rockies are hesitant to call him up despite pitching well at Triple-A Colorado Springs. That speaks volumes.
If the Rockies don’t think he is a fit for them, there’s no reason to have him on the roster.
Maybe the Marlins feel Pomeranz can do well by getting out of Colorado. That’s why it would not hurt to ask them if their young starter is enough to get Nolasco.
Pomeranz certainly has the talent. He is young, and he can get better as he gets older. It would be a good risk to take for the Marlins.
Now, odds are good Nolasco would not resign with the Rockies as a free agent next year if he is acquired. He is going to want to be overpaid, and he wants to pitch for a World Series contender. The Rockies don’t fit that criteria for him.
The Rockies need to go for it here. Anytime a team has an opportunity to make the playoffs, they should go for it. It’s hard to get opportunities like that every year.
Once a team makes the playoffs, they have a shot to go to the World Series. The Rockies demonstrated that in 2007. Maybe if they get there this year, they can finish the deal by winning the Fall Classic.
That’s why there has to be a sense of urgency to get an ace.
By getting Nolasco, the Rockies would send a message to their players that they are going for it. That approach can fire the players up, and that would put pressure on them to play well. It’s something they would embrace.
By getting Nolasco, the Rockies would send a message to fans that they are about winning rather than settling for less.
With Todd Helton being in his last year, how about sending him off as a champion by getting an ace? It would be a nice sentimental reason to make a move.
By saying the Rockies think Chatwood and Oswalt can do well, they are hoping rather than feel good about their starters doing well. It’s no different than hoping Jon Garland can be an upgrade, and we all know that did not turn out well.
Rather than going for prospects and hoping for the best with projects, they should go for a proven starter that knows what he is doing.
It’s the best move the Rockies can do.
It has been a long time the Rockies made a big move.
The timing is right to do something.
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BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
The Rockies’ starting rotation was off to a great start to the season.
The starters gave the Rockies a chance to win by performing quality starts. That was why the Rockies were off to a 13-4 start in April.
Since then, they have been mediocre at best with the exception of Jorge De La Rosa, who is 7-3 with a 3.38 ERA.
That is not going to cut it if the Rockies want to be a playoff team.
That’s why there is going to be several changes in the starting rotation.
It’s a move the Rockies have to make if they are going to win ballgames.
The first move was done last night when the Rockies designated Jon Garland for assignment. That move came to make room for Jeff Francis after he was activated from the disabled list.
Garland struggled since May by losing five straight games. His ERA ballooned to 5.82, and he had a 6.81 ERA over his last seven starts. He was 4-6 after 12 starts.
He struggled to find his location, and he was constantly behind the count often. He couldn’t get groundouts. He was a good bet to give up 7 hits at least when he was starting. He had a hard time retiring guys in order.
The Rockies hoped he would straighten himself out, but it never happened. They couldn’t justify keeping him in the rotation anymore.
The Rockies are disappointed it did not work out. They were hoping Garland would give them innings, quality starts and victories. They thought he would be a veteran that would create stability in the rotation.
They tried hard to get a starter in the offseason, but that did not materialize.
They signed Garland as a free agent after the Mariners released him in spring training. They liked what they saw from him when he went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts. He held the opposition to three runs on 10 hits with five walks and four strikeouts over 12 innings.
It was a good signing at the time, and he was off to a good start in April. Everything fell apart unfortunately, so the Rockies will move on.
With the way Tyler Chatwood pitched since his callup by going 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in six starts, the Rockies found their replacement for Garland.
There are going to be more changes to come.
Francis is on the verge of losing his role in the rotation.
He had the pressure of holding on to his job after being activated from the disabled list. That’s a tough position to be, but that’s the way it goes in professional sports. He knows it.
Francis struggled last night.
He gave up four runs and six hits in four innings, and he walked three. He finished the game by throwing 93 pitches in four innings.
To be fair to Francis, it was going to take time for him to get back on track after missing time with a left groin strain.
With Roy Oswalt pitching well at Double-A Tulsa, it is going to be a matter of time until he gets called up.
This leaves no room for error for Francis, who has not pitched well before he was designated on the disabled list.
The Rockies can’t keep Francis in the rotation when he has a 6.30 ERA in 9 games. He can’t be on the rotation when he can only pitch for four or five innings at best. He is useless if he is struggling to face batters second time around.
Drew Pomeranz will be called up soon. With him pitching well at 7-1 in the 12 games he pitched at Colorado Springs, the organization feels he is ready to step up in the starting rotation.
Considering how awful Jhoulys Chacin has pitched, Pomeranz is the right guy to replace him.
They can’t justify keeping Chacin in the rotation if he continues to struggle.
Chacin can’t protect leads, and he struggles to get hitters out once he faces them for the second time in the game.
Chacin is 3-3 in 11 games with a 4.59 ERA, and he has given up a combined 10 runs and 16 hits in his last two starts. He hasn’t gotten guys out on strikeouts much this year, either.
The Rockies thought he could be their ace, but results say differently.
Chacin could be another guy losing his gig.
Juan Nicasio hasn’t been great shakes, but at least, he finds a way to win and get out of jams. He gives the Rockies a better chance to win than Chacin.
Who knows what Chatwood, Oswalt and Pomeranz can do?
As good as Chatwood has been, it remains to be seen is he can sustain his good performance for months.
He is the Rockies’ second best pitcher, but that’s not saying much. He still has something to prove.
Oswalt has not pitched well in recent years, so the Rockies are going on a limb with him. It’s hard to believe he can do much.
Pomeranz has the potential to be a good pitcher, but he has to show he has the mindset to pitch in the altitude.
Despite doubts about those guys, the Rockies should give them a chance to show what they can do.
They saw what Garland, Francis and Chacin can do. The results have not been pretty.
It’s time to try something new.
Everyone knew the Rockies’ starting rotation was a question mark to start the season.
The organization knew they were going to make changes with their rotation as the season went on.
That time has come.
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BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
In the offseason, the Rockies searched for a veteran starter that would provide stability in the starting rotation by winning and doling out quality starts every fifth day.
They explored all avenues until they settled on Jon Garland to be that guy by signing him in the middle of spring training after the Mariners released him. They thought he would be the guy.
So much for that.
With Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz waiting to be called up from the minors, Garland could be losing his spot in the starting rotation after he struggled again in the Rockies’ 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks last night at Coors Field.
Garland gave up five runs on 11 hits in six innings as he took the loss. He had a hard time finding the location of the strike zone. He was giving up hits in every inning with the exception of the first inning.
This has been typical of him lately. He has struggled in his last four starts, and his ERA is 5.19 after last night’s horrible outing.
This is not what the Rockies envisioned when they signed him.
It is surprising Garland has struggled lately. He always had a good command when he is out on the mound. He is a wily veteran that knows how to pitch out of jams.
It was why the Rockies thought he was a good fit.
They also thought Garland’s sinker would be effective at Coors Field.
That hasn’t been the case lately. He is not getting the groundouts that would help him be effective.
Garland came up with an excuse in his start against the Cubs last week. He cited that it’s hard to be effective when he is on an innings limit. The Rockies take their starters out once they hit 100 pitches.
Garland feels that he has to think about throwing eight to 10 pitches rather than go out and be aggressive. He worries about pitch count rather than pitching on the mound.
That’s what pitchers say when they are frustrated. They come up with excuses for their struggles.
Garland’s job is to find the right spots to throw strikes. He is not getting it done. It’s surprising he did not blame Wilin Rosario for his control problems after throwing several wild pitches last night.
Garland can’t be making excuses in this situation. He has to pitch better, and he has to find his location.
Maybe it’s a mechanics issue with him. Something is not right.
The Rockies and Garland have to hope this is a bad stretch and nothing more.
They are going to give him a chance to figure it out. He has done enough to earn an opportunity to straighten the kinks.
Still, this is a result-oriented business.
If the Rockies can find someone else that can do better, that’s what they are going to do.
The problem is Pomeranz and Oswalt are no better.
Pomeranz has the potential to be an effective starter, but it remains to be seen if he has it in him to be a good pitcher at Coors Field.
Oswalt is washed up. He struggled in the last two years. For the Rockies to think he will be effective now, that’s laughable.
Tyler Chatwood could be a mainstay in the rotation if he pitches well, but he is a question mark. He has struggled to find his niche as a starter in the majors. He has a hard time finding the right location to pitch.
The Rockies have to hope Garland can get it together if they are going to win ballgames.
He is capable of pitching better. He showed that in April. There’s no reason to think he will fall apart altogether.
Keep in mind Garland hasn’t pitch last year, so he was going to have his down period this year.
The Rockies don’t have time to wait. They feel they have the right personnel to be a playoff team. They are going to do what it takes to win ballgames.
It’s hard to argue about their decision.
Garland is pitching for his job, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his next start is his last.
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After all this talk about the Rockies being committed to upgrading their starting rotation this offseason, they finally did it.
They signed Jon Garland to a major-league contract on Sunday. He was available after the Mariners released him on Saturday.
It’s easy for anyone to ask why Garland is available if he is so good.
He was available after the Mariners had no room for him in the rotation. They want couple of young starters such as Brandon Maurer and Blake Beaven in their back end of the rotation, so they can develop them this season.
Garland did well in spring training by going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts. He held the opposition to three runs on 10 hits with five walks and four strikeouts over 12 innings this spring.
After missing last year with shoulder surgery, he has recovered well based on his strong command this month. That’s good enough for the Rockies.
At this point, Garland and Jeff Francis are guys that the Rockies could depend on to get quality starts. The rest are questions marks when one looks at the fact Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Drew Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio have been inconsistent on the mound this spring training.
Garland will be starting next week for the Rockies after Pomeranz was sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs to start the season.
It was a move the Rockies had to make. Pomeranz has not earned the right to be in the rotation based on his spotty performances this season, and the Rockies had to find someone who can get the job done on the mound.
The Rockies will talk about Pomeranz being sent down to work on his changeup, but that’s all spin.
If Pomeranz was not having control problems, he would be in the starting rotation, not pitching at Colorado Springs.
Pomeranz and the Rockies should be disappointed that this has not worked out.
The Rockies wanted him to develop this year, but it’s clear he is not qualified to pitch in the majors when he continues to display control problems.
As for Pomeranz, he has to wonder if he has to go elsewhere to fulfill his potential. It hasn’t happened for him with the Rockies.
Good for the Rockies for wanting better from their starting rotation. This shouldn’t be about developing starters while the team continues to lose games.
Guys have to be on the rotation based on merit, not because they are learning on the job.
The Rockies can’t afford to have another season like last year with guys struggling on the mound. It makes the team unwatchable. It’s refreshing they decided to change course by going with a proven pitcher in Garland.
Here’s why there is so much to like about this signing:
Garland pitched in the NL West in recent years as a member of the Dodgers and Padres.
He averages 12 wins a year.
He gives the Rockies innings by pitching 200 or more innings a year.
He is a sinkerball pitcher with a career 1.31 groundball-to-flyball rate, which will be useful when he pitches at Coors Field.
There are questions if Garland can be the same pitcher after shoulder surgery. Like most pitchers, there will be doubts whether or not he can pitch well at Coors Field.
That’s fair, but if a guy of Garland’s caliber is available, the Rockies would be fools to say no.
They need someone who can help them win games, and that’s the bottom line when it comes to this signing.
Credit Garland for wanting the challenge of pitching at Coors Field. Most guys shy away from it with the idea they can never succeed there. It’s surprising he wanted to pitch there.
It’s been an exhausting search for the Rockies front office to find a competent starter. There hasn’t been any starter that was a fit to their liking.
They were fortunate to find out Garland was available, and they were quick to sign him before other teams did.
Now, they have to hope he does not flame out for them like other starters did as Rockies.
God knows the Rockies need to form a rotation that provides stability. There have been too many changes in the rotation during the course of the season. That has to end sooner or later.
That’s one reason the Rockies signed Garland.
Whether it works or not, the Rockies should be commended for being proactive in fixing their rotation. It beats watching an unproven pitcher trying to figure it out. That gets old after awhile.
Pomeranz’s struggles were something the organization couldn’t handle anymore.
Maybe he figures it out eventually, but the Rockies don’t have time to wait.
They are in the business of winning games, and that’s what Garland’s signing was about.
After having his season done in August with a back injury, it was going to take a while for him to pitch. He was hoping to pitch when spring training started, but the Rockies wanted him to take his time.
Friedrich finally pitched last night against the Reds at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. He did okay, which was to be expected after missing so much time.
He started off rusty by giving up a double to Cesar Izturis, and a single to Donald Lutz that scored Izturis. Jay Bruce hit a two-run home run after that.
He settled down in the next inning.
Overall, Friedrich gave up two runs on four hits in two innings.
Nope, he has no shot of making the rotation. He was a long shot to make it after missing so much time.
There’s no question Friedrich is disappointed that he never had a chance to make an impression to first-year Rockies manager Walt Weiss and Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright.
He felt he was good enough to be in the rotation this year.
In 16 starts, Friedrich was 5-8 with .617 ERA last year. His losing record stems from pitching in pain according to the Rockies.
To Friedrich’s credit, he showed glimmer of hope. He threw strikes, and he went after hitters. He showed he is not afraid to pitch at Coors Field.
His best outing came on June 4 when he threw seven shutout innings in the Rockies’ 4-0 shutout victory against the Diamondbacks last year.
He can build on this according to the organization. They like his mental makeup on the mound. They know he can throw all sorts of pitches such as the curveball, slider, changeup and fastball.
The Rockies hope Friedrich can show what he can do this spring training. He was going to compete with Drew Pomeranz, Chris Volstad and Tyler Chatwood for the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
It was not meant to be for him.
The Rockies have to hope Friedrich can show improvement at Triple-A Colorado Springs before they call him up to the majors this year.
They would love to see him start this year. They feel he can only make progress by pitching in the majors. A pitcher’s growth can be determined by how he fares going up against hitters in the majors. He can only do so much in the minors.
The Rockies would love to have a rotation that can give them a chance every game.
They only have three serviceable pitchers in Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Jeff Francis. They would love to develop two young starters this season, and they feel Pomeranz and Friedrich can be guys they can develop.
Juan Nicasio is not the answer with the way he has pitched this spring training. He has given up 11 runs on 15 hits in the 10 innings he pitched. He continues to struggle when it comes to throwing secondary pitches.
Nicasio is fortunate there are not many options for Weiss to replace him. Right now, he will be in the rotation even though he does not deserve to be there.
Volstad has done okay, but it is clear Weiss does not think he is not a starting material based on his ability to give up home runs when he pitches.
This is why it was disappointing for Friedrich that he did not have a chance to show Weiss what he can do. Maybe he beats Nicasio for a spot in the rotation if he pitched well enough.
All Friedrich can do is show that he is ready by pitching well in the minors.
If Nicasio struggles and Friedrich does well next month, there could be changes in the rotation.
The Rockies are better off if Friedrich is in the rotation.
They saw enough of Nicasio. He is good enough to be a reliever. He is not a starter. He gets hit around when the hitters face him second time in the game. He relies only on his fastball.
The Rockies can do better.
They are hoping Friedrich could be a guy that makes the rotation better.
They like to see a guy who can develop into serviceable starter. He has the stuff to be good. It’s a matter of him going out there and performing. The fact the Rays wanted him this offseason shows you how they believe he is good. That’s why the Rockies haven’t traded him yet.
Friedrich will not be in the rotation with the Rockies to start the season, but it does not mean all is lost for him.
All it takes is one good month for him to pitch for the Rockies.