When It Was Time to Step Up Freeland Didn't Hesitate
The Rockies youthful starting pitchers like to talk about an inner competition, and how the success of each other is a driving force for the next guy up in the rotation.
And then there are nights like Saturday.
Kyle Freeland had his motivation to step up on Saturday night, but for a different reason. He wanted to be the guy to change the recent direction of the franchise. He wanted to provide that shutdown moment.
The Thomas Jefferson alum did that -- and then some.
Freeland added another chapter to his own string of strong starts, but this time it wasn't to build off previous success. His focus was to get the Rockies headed back in the right direction.
Freeland not only shutdown the Brewers for 6 1/3 innings in a 4-0 victory at Coors Field, but he put an end to a three-game losing streak in which the Rockies pitching staff gave up 24 runs in 28 innings.
"You want to be the guy to step up and shut that down, get a team win and start a new streak," said Freeland. "That was the thing about (Saturday night). I wanted to step and be the guy who got the team a win. ... Every guy in this clubhouse wants to be that stopper, the guy who steps up and says, `This has to stop now.'"
Three Games to Forget
|Wednesday, Angels, 8-0||IP||H||R||ER||BB||K||HR|
|Thursday, Brewers, 5-2|
|German Márquez (L 2-4)||4.2||12||5||5||3||3||1|
|Friday, Brewers, 11-10|
|Rotation 9.82 ERA||14.2||28||16||16||7||9||4|
|Bullpen 5.40 ERA||13.1||17||8||8||9||8||2|
|Totals 7.71 ERA||28||45||24||24||16||17||6|
Freeland responded to the challenge. He worked 6 1/3 shutout innings, and had allowed six baserunners (four hits, two walks) before back-to-back walks in the seventh prompted manager Bud Black to turn to the bullpen for the final eight outs of the game.
It was the Rockies 20th quality start, the team-high fifth for Freeland, who still does not have a complete game in 36 MLB starts, having come close when he had a no-hitter for 8 1/3 on July 9 last season against the White Sox before giving up a hit.
Freeland said that's a goal, but it's not the focus.
"Right now I want to get as deep as possible to give the team a chance to win," he said.
Freeland has definitely been giving the Rockies a chance to win in his recent starts. He leads the team with the five quality starts, but more importantly, after struggles earlier this season, he has had a quality start each of his last four times on the mound.
He admits he and catcher Chris Iannetta had a sitdown session after a struggle in Pittsburgh.
"After that game we sat down and realized I was going to have to pitch to my strength, no matter what," he said. "I have been sticking to that and have had success."
Translation: Trust you stuff. Don't give the hitter too much credit.
Result: He is 3-1 in his last four starts, but has allowed only five runs in 27 1/3 innings. The lone loss was a 3-2 decision.
“He’s been very effective inside with the fastball, and the slider’s been better — it had better break to it, more depth and more consistent spin,” Black said Saturday. “Those two things have made Kyle turn the corner from the first few starts — a fastball in, and a better breaking slider, and a few more changeups have been functional.”
The Difference Shows in the Results
What sticks out about Freeland is he has embraced the challenge of Coors Field. The Denver native and Thomas Jefferson High School alum, who was born May 14, 1993, weeks after the Rockies first game ever, has better numbers at Coors Field than he does on the road.
Freeland, in fact, has the lowest ERA in the history of Coors Field among the 82 pitchers who have worked at least 60 innings in the Rockies home ballpark.
Cool at Coors