Denver native Kyle Freeland grew up rooting for the Colorado Rockies. Born a little over a month after the Rockies’ first-ever game, Freeland watched many, many years of bad-to-mediocre pitching take the Rockies’ mound with few exceptions.
Now in his sophomore season in the big leagues, the Colorado Rockies lefty is leading a pitching revolution in Denver that is resulting in not just the best rotation in club history, but one of the best young rotations in the game.
As we near the end of August, Freeland is steadily garnering national attention for the historic season he is putting together … and rightfully so. Freeland’s 2.96 ERA is the lowest ERA in the NL for a qualifying left-handed pitcher and the sixth-lowest overall.
That ERA would be the second-lowest single-season ERA for a Rockies pitcher in team history (minimum 20 games started) and only the second time a Rockies pitcher finished a full season with an ERA below 3.00. Only Ubaldo Jimenez‘s 2.88 ERA in his remarkable 2010 season is better. And, as crazy as it sounds, that record is within reach for Freeland. Depending on how the final month-plus shapes out, Freeland could potentially become the new Rockies single-season ERA leader.
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Jimenez received more attention for his season in part because of his ridiculous first half when he went 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA. His no-hitter in Atlanta also helped catapult him into the national spotlight. Although not quite as dominant as Jimenez was during 2010’s first two months (10-1, 0.78 ERA), Freeland’s 2018 will be remembered right alongside Jimenez’s 2010 as one of the best seasons for a Rockies pitcher in team history.
In fact, if you break down Freeland’s and Jimenez’s seasons by month, Freeland has arguably had a better season than Jimenez did after May. Jimenez pitching to an ERA of 0.78 over a span of two months will go down as one of the greatest stretches in baseball history, but after April and May, his monthly ERAs varied from pretty good to, honestly, pretty bad.
Jimenez posted a 4.41 ERA in June and a shocking 6.04 ERA in July. He got some of his success back in August, putting together a 2.83 ERA. In September and October, he pitched to a respectable 3.57 ERA.
So how does Freeland stack up? In April, Freeland posted a 4.24 ERA, but that was the only month in which his ERA rose above 3.03. His ERA for May was 2.56. In June, it was 3.03. He improved to 2.54 in July and has posted his best monthly mark so far in four starts in August at 2.13.
We’ll have to wait and see what September and October bring but, so far, Freeland has been consistently better over the entirety of the season than even Jimenez was.
In three of the five months played in 2018, Freeland has posted much better ERAs than Jimenez did during those same months in 2010. The only months where Jimenez was better was April and May when he put up numbers few in the history of the game have neared. Freeland will likely be mentioned only in passing, if at all, when it comes time to vote for the Cy Young award winners, but fans across the Rocky Mountain region won’t be so quick to dismiss what they are watching transpire.
Jimenez finished third in NL Cy Young voting in 2010, which is, unfortunately, much higher than Freeland will finish in all likelihood this season. But awards and recognition aside, the facts remain the same — Kyle Freeland is having arguably the most consistently-dominant season in Rockies history.