Colorado Rockies: Christian Friedrich Turns Heads, Dexter Fowler on the Outs

Derek StaudtContributor IIIMay 16, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 14:  Christian Friedrich #53 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Colorado Rockies pitching staff has been a lightning rod of criticism for the team's early troubles. And deservedly so.

This group, albeit young, is bad.

Rockies fans are used to setting the bar low for the endless number of pitching failures they've been forced to endure. But even this is staggering. This is Jersey Shore marathon bad. Or Roger Moore as James Bond bad.

But Christian Friedrich has given us hope.

The lanky left-hander from Eastern Kentucky University shook off the mediocrity in Double-A ball and has raised eyebrows in his first two starts in the big leagues. He has hardly looked like a minor-league depth player.

Instead, he looked "Like Koufax," raved Giants manager Bruce Bochy to Alex Espinoza of, who watched the rookie strike out 10 of his players on Monday. Jim Tracy echoed Bochy's sentiments, stating "That's as good a starting pitching performance we've had all year. He was phenomenal."

Friedrich's success can be pinned on his hunger to attack batters and pound the strike zone. Through two games, 129 of the southpaw's 186 pitches (70 percent) have been strikes, ultimately leading to 17 Ks compared to just two measly walks. His 5.00-plus ERA for the Tulsa Drillers appears to be far behind him.

But it wasn't without a wake-up call last season.

The native of Evanston, Illinois, spent the offseason with Cliff Lee—currently one of the top hurlers in the game—and was amazed at Lee's dedication to conditioning. It didn't take long for Friedrich to establish better workout methods and improve his diet.

As a result, Freidrich dropped from 240 lbs to 205 lbs in just a couple months. The work paid off, and now he's gaining notice in the majors.

DENVER, CO - APRIL 17:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his two run home run off of starting pitcher Anthony Bass #45 of the San Diego Padres to give the Rockies 2-0 lead in the third inning at Coors Field on April 17, 2012 i
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Via Bernie Wilson of The Durango Herald:

"I guess it's a dream come true," Friedrich said. "I struggled the last two years. To come up here and have some success... it feels great. It's a weight lifted off my shoulders. Now I can go out and there and do my thing."

A true test to see if Friedrich can continue to "do his thing" will come in the most harrowed of pitchers graveyards: Coors Field.

He will face the Mariners on Saturday.


Dexter Fowler Is On Borrowed Time

The Rockies handed out Dexter Fowler t-shirts as part of a giveaway promotion a couple weeks ago.

It's looking more and more like the promotion is simply part of Fowler's farewell tour.

The smooth-striding center fielder has been given ample opportunities to cement his name in the Rox lineup over the past two years. However, his hapless bat has prevented the 26-year old from assuring a spot on the roster.

We all knew this season would likely be his last shot at proving himself with the Rockies. Now, it appears as if his time will end sooner than expected.

Offseason acquisition Tyler Colvin has quickly gained the trust of Colorado's coaching staff and was recently awarded a promotion to the leadoff spot. He has not disappointed, providing solid defense and reliability at the plate.

Fowler—a routine strikeout victim—cannot match up with Colvin, who is hitting comfortably over .300 at this time of writing. And due to Fowler's unimpressive pro track record, it may be impossible for him to win back a starting role in the outfield.