Altitude Sickness? Not Freeland, Pitching at Coors Is Cool for Denver Native

Kyle Freeland is a Rockie by birth.

Born down the road from Mile High Stadium, just 40 days after the first game in Rockies history was played in Shea Stadium on April 5, 1993, Freeland never knew life without Colorado Rockies baseball.

He wasn't old enough to have memories of that 1995 team that advanced to the post-season quicker than any previous expansion team, but he can remember so many moments from the wild-card battles in 2007 and 2009. And the Thomas Jefferson High School alum was very much a part of the 2017 chase to the wild-card.

And now he finds himself in the midst of another post-season push by the Rockies, and this time he has put himself in the role of being that critical rotation linchpin, making sure the Rockies don't get sidetracked with a vision of a repeat of that Rocktober of 2007, in which the Rockies made the only World Series appearance in franchise history.

"I remember that like it was yesterday," said Freeland, who matriculated from Thomas Jefferson High School to the University of Evansville before becoming the Rockies first-round draft choice in 2014. "That was special to me. I was not part of the organization, but I was a part of the city and part of Colorado.

"It would be a speical place in my heart to be a part of a team and have a chance to do something special again."

A part of the team? How about the cornerstone of the rotation for a Rockies team that finds itself in first place in the NL West 141 games into the season -- the latest point the Rockies have ever been atop division standings? How about the cornerstone of the rotation for a Rockies team that wins a division title for the first time in what is the 26th season in franchise history?

It's possible, and Freeland is a big part of that.

His six-inning, one-run effort was his 20th quality start -- six innings or more, three earned runs or fewer -- of the season. He became only the fifth pitcher in franchise history -- including Ubaldo Jimenez twice -- to have as many as 20 quality starts in a season.

Quality Counts

Player Season QS W-L Starts IP BB SO ERA
Ubaldo Jimenez 2010 Col 25 19-8 33 222.2 92 214 2.88
Ubaldo Jimenez 2009 Col 24 15-12 33 218 85 198 3.47
Jason Marquis 2009 Col 21 15-13 33 216 80 115 4.04
Kyle Freeland 2018 Col 20 14-7 29 176.1 63 153 2.91
Jason Jennings 2006 Col 20 9-13 32 212 85 142 3.78
Jhoulys Chacin 2013 Col 19 14-10 31 197.1 61 126 3.47

 

Never was it more evident than on Saturday night at Coors Field. Having suffered a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Dodgers on Friday night, and seeing their lead in the NL West dwindle to a half-game on the Dodgers, Freeland took the ball and reaffirmed the Rockies presence atop the division.

He provided the foundation for the Rockies 4-2 victory, departing after six dominant innings, the only blemish a solo home run by Chris Taylor to lead off the fifth. Freeland retired six of the next seven batters -- a one-out walk to Manny Machado in the sixth the only blemish -- and then watched the bullpen finish off the victory.

"You saw what we have seen from Kyle all year," said manager Bud Black, "whether it was a spring trianing game, a game in May, a game in the Dog Days of August or a game in September."

And it doesn't matter whehter he is pitching at altitude or sea level. 

Actually, it does matter. He is better at altitude than sea level.

At Home at 5280

General W L G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA AVG OBP
Home 8 2 13 81.1 64 20 20 10 29 76 2.21 .217 .295
Away 6 5 16 95 91 37 37 6 34 77 3.51 .253 .317

He figures to have possibly three starts remaining at Coors Field -- Thursday against Arizona, Sept. 24 against the Phillies and Sept. 29 against the Nationals. Right now, his Coors Field ERA is the lowest in franchise history -- by more than a half run. In fact, in his second season, he has two of the 13 starting pitcher ERAs in Rockies history lower than 4.00.

Conquering Coors.

Player Season W L Pct GS IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
Kyle Freeland 2018 8 2 .800 13 81.1 64 20 20 10 29 76 2.21
Jorge De La Rosa 2013 10 1 .909 14 81.2 87 25 25 3 23 56 2.76
Jorge De La Rosa 2014 10 2 .833 15 90.2 74 34 31 9 29 64 3.08
Ubaldo Jimenez 2010 9 2 .818 15 101.2 88 36 36 4 38 96 3.19
Denny Stark 2002 8 1 .889 12 84 65 40 30 18 35 37 3.21
Ubaldo Jimenez 2008 7 4 .636 16 103.1 84 41 38 8 43 72 3.31
Ubaldo Jimenez 2009 8 5 .615 15 102.1 88 40 38 7 40 86 3.34
Jason Jennings 2006 5 5 .500 15 101 99 42 40 9 45 65 3.56
Jhoulys Chacin 2011 6 7 .462 18 113.1 101 51 45 11 48 86 3.57
Joe Kennedy 2004 6 1 .857 14 82.2 84 33 33 10 38 59 3.59
Kyle Freeland 2017 6 8 .429 16 87 89 41 36 7 35 66 3.72
Jason Marquis 2009 7 6 .538 16 105.2 105 49 46 5 47 59 3.92
Aaron Cook 2006 5 7 .417 18 125 134 59 55 15 30 48 3.96

And his season ERA is in line to be the second lowest in franchise history -- only the second ever below 3.00. He is, in fact, in line to become only the 10th starting pitcher in franchise history with an ERA below 4.00  and is in position with a solid start that he could break Ubaldo Jimenez's record for lowest ERA in Rockies history.

Making Them Earn It

Player Season W-L Pct GS IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
Ubaldo Jimenez 2010 19-8 .704 33 221.2 164 73 71 10 92 214 2.88
Kyle Freeland 2018 14-7 .667 29 176.1 155 57 57 16 63 153 2.91
Jhoulys Chacin 2013 14-10 .583 31 197.1 188 82 76 11 61 126 3.47
Ubaldo Jimenez 2009 15-12 .556 33 218 183 87 84 13 85 198 3.47
Jorge De La Rosa 2013 16-6 .727 30 167.2 170 70 65 11 62 112 3.49
Jhoulys Chacin 2011 11-14 .440 31 194 168 87 78 20 87 150 3.62
Joe Kennedy 2004 9-7 .563 27 162.1 163 68 66 17 67 117 3.66
Jason Jennings 2006 9-13 .409 32 212 206 94 89 17 85 142 3.78
Aaron Cook 2008 16-9 .640 32 211.1 236 102 93 13 48 96 3.96
Ubaldo Jimenez 2008 12-12 .500 34 198.2 182 97 88 11 103 172 3.99