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
Tyler Anderson 5 6 4 4 1 3 2
Bullpen 4 10 4 4 4 1 1
Total 9 16 8 8 5 4 3
Thursday, Brewers, 5-2
German Márquez (L 2-4) 4.2 12 5 5 3 3 1
Bullpen 4.1 0 0 0 2 3 0
Total 9 12 5 5 5 6 1
Friday, Brewers, 11-10
Chad Bettis 5 10 7 7 3 3 1
Bullpen 5 7 4 4 3 4 1
Team 10 17 11 11 6 7 2
3-Game Totals
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. 

QUALITY COUNTS

Player Date Opp W L IP Runs
Tyler Anderson 4/5/2018 SD 0 0 6 0
Tyler Anderson 4/10/2018 SD 0 0 6 2
Tyler Anderson 4/21/2018 ChC 1 0 6 2
Tyler Anderson 5/2/2018 ChC 1 0 7 2
Chad Bettis 4/12/2018 Was 1 0 7 1
Chad Bettis 4/17/2018 Pit 1 0 7.1 0
Chad Bettis 4/29/2018 Mia 0 1 7 2
Chad Bettis 5/5/2018 NYM 1 0 7 0
Kyle Freeland 4/8/2018 Atl 0 1 6 3
Kyle Freeland 4/24/2018 SD 1 0 7 0
Kyle Freeland 4/30/2018 ChC 0 1 7 3
Kyle Freeland 5/6/2018 NYM 1 0 7 2
Kyle Freeland 5/12/2018 Mil 1 0 6.1 0
Jon Gray 4/4/2018 SD 1 0 7 0
Jon Gray 4/25/2018 SD 1 0 6 0
Jon Gray 5/1/2018 ChC 1 0 7 1
Jon Gray 5/8/2018 LAA 1 0 7 1
German Marquez 4/16/2018 Pit 1 0 6 2
German Marquez 4/28/2018 Mia 0 1 6 1
German Marquez 5/4/2018 NYM 1 0 6 2

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.

Black noticed.

“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

Date Opponent W L IP H R ER HR BB SO
4/3/2018 @SD L 8-4 0 1 5.1 5 4 4 2 2 6
4/8/2018 Atl L 4-0 0 1 6 7 3 3 2 2 5
4/13/2018 @Was W 2-1 0 0 4.2 4 1 1 0 3 4
4/18/2018 @Pit L 10-2 0 1 4 6 5 5 1 2 2
4/24/2018 SD W 8-0 1 0 7 3 0 0 0 2 8
4/30/2018 @ChC L 3-2 0 1 7 6 3 3 0 1 5
5/6/2018 @NYM W 3-2 1 0 7 4 2 2 0 1 8
5/12/2018 Mil W 4-0 1 0 6.1 4 0 0 0 4 6

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.

Home Body

2018 W L Sv SvOP G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
Home 2 1 0 0 3 3 19.1 14 3 3 2 8 19 1.4
Away 1 3 0 0 5 5 28 25 15 15 3 9 25 4.82
Career W L Sv SvOP G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
Home 8 9 0 0 22 19 106.1 103 44 39 9 43 85 3.3
Away 6 6 0 0 19 17 97 105 52 50 13 37 66 4.64

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

Player W L Pct IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
Kyle Freeland 8 9 0.471 106.1 103 44 39 9 43 85 3.3
Taylor Buchholz 10 4 0.714 86 79 33 32 9 23 64 3.35
Brian Fuentes 11 11 0.5 223.2 202 89 85 19 77 258 3.42
Tyler Anderson 9 6 0.6 136.1 139 57 53 15 36 125 3.5
Steve Reed 12 10 0.545 179.1 159 76 70 27 63 139 3.51
Adam Ottavino 10 6 0.625 180.2 161 73 71 18 63 188 3.54
LaTroy Hawkins 5 3 0.625 71 68 29 28 6 17 38 3.55
Ubaldo Jimenez 30 19 0.612 419.2 383 189 171 33 167 341 3.67
Chuck McElroy 9 0 1 67.2 79 28 28 6 23 52 3.72
Bruce Ruffin 6 3 0.667 64.2 63 31 27 3 33 70 3.76