Over the last few weeks, there have been quite a few articles written about Colorado Rockies’ starter Kyle Freeland and his attempt to work his way back to his 2018 form in which he finished the season in fourth place in the Cy Young Award.
Like most of the Colorado Rockies, Kyle Freeland has failed to live up to expectations. In fact, he arguably could be the biggest disappointment this season after an unbelievable ’18 campaign. So far, he is 3-10 with a 7.09 ERA in 19 starts, including a trip down to Triple-A.
The Rockies hope their third-year starter out of Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver can get back on track, but there is a recent example in their past that is all too familiar … and that doesn’t bode well.
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Last decade, there was another Rockies “ace” who’s early Major League career has some striking similarities to Freeland. This starter showed a lot of potential in his rookie and sophomore seasons before getting an All-Star selection but quickly flamed out before being traded away.
No, not Ubaldo Jiménez. It is Shawn Chacón.
To refresh some memories, Chacón, who is also a Colorado native (Greeley), was selected in the third round of the 1996 draft out of Central High School. He made his debut in early 2001, where he flashed his potential at times but couldn’t find consistency in his first two seasons in the Majors.
Then in 2003, it finally clicked as he went 11-4 with a 4.27 ERA in the first half, including a couple of gems, earning him his lone All-Star selection. A couple of bad starts in the second half and an injury cut short his season to end with 11-8 record with a 4.60 ERA.
However, after 2003, he was never the same. He was converted to the bullpen to be the closer in ’04, where he went 35-for-44 in save opportunities with a 1-9 record and a 7.11 ERA. He moved back to the rotation the next season where he struggled with a 1-9 record before finally getting traded to the New York Yankees at the deadline. He help them make the playoffs but could never get find that success that he had in the first half of 2003. He bounced around the Majors for a few more seasons before retiring at the age of 30.
Obviously, Freeland has a much higher ceiling than Chacón. However, he has had a much larger fall from grace, which could be the hardest hurdle for him to overcome. The Rockies will be patient and give Freeland every opportunity to get right. However, if he can’t get it done in the next two seasons, his fate could end up exactly like Shawn Chacón.