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Freeland focuses on becoming lights out in second half; Rockies draft notes on pitching

Patrick Lyons Avatar
July 25, 2022

Kyle Freeland isn’t a licensed electrician, nor has he ever discussed feng shui or interior design during his six seasons with the Colorado Rockies.

But he is smart enough to know when something is not right.

“Didn’t like where that light was in the dugout,” Freeland explained following a dugout outburst on July 14. “Didn’t look good.”

What prompted the display of emotion was three-run fifth inning by the visiting San Diego Padres that chased Freeland from the game and raised his earned run average for the fourth consecutive start.

According to the 29-year-old, “I tried to be too fine. Not sure why. It’s obviously a solid lineup they have over there, but that’s not my game of trying to be fine with pitches.”

In the age of the three true outcomes where teams are willing to accept a ton of strikeouts – or 150 in a season – from their best hitters, Freeland has not been one to benefit from this trend as he maintains one of the lowest strikeout rates in the Majors. 

With 755.2 innings pitched, 20th most in the sport since debuting in the Coors Field home opener in 2017, Freeland has struck out 579 batters. That translates to the batter tucking his chin in disappointment after striking out 17.7% of the time.

Of the 70 pitchers who have made started 100 or more games since his debut season, only six have averaged less than Freeland’s 6.90 strikeouts per nine rate.  

But this is no news to the Thomas Jefferson High School alum.

No one has been better at inducing a ground ball to start a patented 6-4-3 double play than Colorado’s top southpaw whose 94 with Colorado trails only Kyle Gibson (104) of the Philadelphia Phillies in the last five-plus years.

“My game is being in the zone, attacking, getting ahead and getting weak contact,” he clarified.

The Rockies’ entrusted $64.5 million in their hometown hero at the start of the year to insure the rotation would continue to be the backbone of the franchise for years to come. While the return on this expenditure may appear less than expected through the first half of the year, manager Bud Black is more hopeful about the club recouping some return on investment.

Jun 17, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland (21) reacts after a call in the fifth inning against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Kyle,” Black said during one of his pre-game media scrums. “I’m looking forward to the second half.”

On Monday, Freeland has an opportunity to course-correct on his season as well as snap Colorado’s four-game losing streak before heading back home for six games against the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Standing in the way is a Milwaukee Brewers’ offense that has scored in bunches all weekend long. With 25 runs in three games, including two comeback victories on Friday and Sunday, the assignment against the best in the National League Central will not be easy.

Hunter Renfroe has homered in all three contests and is the only player on the Brewers’ roster to have recorded a homer against Freeland. His 1.086 OPS in 18 plate appearances makes him the most dangerous hitter for yet another game in this series.

2022 MLB Draft

One of the more integral members contributing to the crop of 22 amateurs selected by the Rockies over the three days of the MLB Draft last week was the club’s head of international scouting, Rolando Fernandez.

According to scouting director Danny Montgomery, the focus on drafting 16 pitchers had to do with the crop of international position players coming through the organization’s Dominican Summer League team over recent years. 

SS Ezequiel Tovar highlights the list, but a group too numerous to name in the lower levels of the farm system are making noise, all thanks to Fernandez and his team of scouts and coaches.

As such, Colorado was hunting for starting pitching. More specifically, college pitching.

With 2020 having been a lost season for amatuer athletes across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volatility in selecting a high school player had never been higher than this year’s draft.

Diamond Details

One of the Rockies’ picks on Day 3 was Skyler Messinger from the University of Texas. Under the tutelage of Longhorns’ assistant coach Troy Tulowitzki, the 19th round selection slashed .364/.414/.560 in 2022 and finished fifth in the Big 12 Conference in batting average and hits (90). The 23-year-old was originally drafted in 2017 by the Chicago Cubs out of Niwot High School.

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