Friedrich delivers just what the Padres needed

May 14th, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- Padres manager Andy Green had a balancing act on his hands on Friday.

With a bullpen game on tap for Saturday now that Andrew Cashner has been placed on the DL, Green needed Christian Friedrich to provide innings, but he also had to be mindful of the fact that the reliever turned starter hadn't come close to 100 pitches in nearly two years.

Friedrich, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A El Paso earlier in the day, ended up tossing a career-high 116 pitches and allowing just one run in six innings despite six walks in San Diego's 1-0 loss to Milwaukee.

It was exactly what the Padres desired.

"He gave us six strong innings and battled hard," Green said. "We ran his pitch count way up. With a bullpen day [on Saturday], sometimes you have to push your starter a little harder than you care to, but he stepped up and gave us everything we needed to win a baseball game."

Wednesday's doubleheader and Cashner's unavailability had left San Diego in a bind.

The Padres didn't announce Friedrich -- who pitched strictly out of the bullpen with Colorado in 2015 and hadn't thrown more than 82 pitches in the Minor Leagues this season -- as Friday's starter until after Thursday's game.

Making his first Major League start since 2014, Friedrich was a bit shaky early. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning by inducing a double play on a sacrifice fly.

The key moment in getting Friedrich through six innings came in the third, when he stranded the bases loaded by getting Jonathan Lucroy to bounce into a fielder's-choice force at the plate and striking out Chris Carter.

"Feels good to grind it out," Friedrich said. "Obviously, I'd like to get ahead of some guys and not give out as many free passes, but I'm happy to work deeper into some pitch counts and grateful for the opportunity the gave me."

Friedrich, who entered the sixth inning at 90 pitches, struck out pinch-hitter Colin Walsh with a runner on second base with his 116th offering.

"He was pushed harder than I probably cared to push him, to be honest," Green said. "We were very aware of the fact that when he got up over 100 pitches -- up to 115, 116 -- we were pushing him hard."

Reliever Carlos Villanueva pitched the final two innings for the Padres, leaving San Diego's bullpen fresh for Saturday, when it will need to cover at least nine innings. Rule 5 pick Luis Perdomo will start.

"You have to factor in a lot of things, like where we are as a club and what we have to do going into tomorrow," Green said. "You end up using two or three relievers in the game, and you literally can't get through the game tomorrow and are hamstrung the whole game."