"We needed someone to step up, and he did, I don't see us moving him out of
the rotation anytime soon."
Those were Diamondback Vice President Bob Miller's words back on May 16th.
It was one day after Mark Freed's May 15th start, Freed's third of the year.
That day Mark Freed went six innings, gave up seven hits, and zero runs while
striking out six.
Miller and the Diamondbacks may be reconsidering. Tuesday Freed gave up
five runs in five innings, including two home runs, while striking out only
four. It was the second straight start where Freed gave up five in five,
and marked a drastic turn in Freed's fortunes.
Freed made his first 10 appearances of 2005 out of the bullpen, but injuries
necessitated Freed's move to the rotation. He had been a starter in his
first three years of pro ball, with the Cubs organization, but was moved to the
pen after he came to the D'Backs organization as compensation in the trade that
sent Damian Miller to Chicago in March of 2003.
A move back could be imminent.
In his first three starts of '05 Freed was brilliant. While he wasn't
going deep into games, it was understandable for a pitcher who hadn't thrown
more than three innings in more than two full seasons, and he was going deep
enough. Freed threw 16 innings in his first three starts, going at least
five in all three, and gave up one earned run combined. He struck out 13
and walked only four in those three outings.
Then Freed attempted to stretch things out.
He picked up his second win as a starter with 7.2 innings pitched on May
21st. He gave up a respectable four earned runs on 10 hits, one of which
was the first home run he had allowed since moving to the rotation. It
wasn't a bad outing, and he proved he could pitch deeper into games.
Since that start he hasn't been the same pitcher, losing both of his most
recent outings. On the 26th of May Freed went five innings, giving up six
runs (five earned) while striking out only three and giving up a home run.
Tuesday Freed struggled even further giving up two home runs as seven crossed
the plate. While many pitchers go through a 'dead arm' period around their
fifth or sixth start of the year, for Freed the trend is unsettling. With
the problems that the Triple-A Sidewinders have had in their rotation they need
starters who can keep them in the game, and keep opponents in the ballpark, and
if Freed isn't productive, it could thwart the Diamondbacks plans to keep
youngsters like Enrique Gonzalez, A. J. Shappi, and Garrett Mock at the lower
levels at least through the midway point of the season.
All is not lost for the right hander. He still carries a 2-2 record and
a respectable 4.01 ERA as a starter, but opponents are hitting .314 off him and
the fifth inning really does appear to be his breaking point. This season
opponents are hitting .315 with three homers off Freed in the fifth.