Kyle Freeland will enter his road start for the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers relying on many of the lessons he has already learned this season about his tweaked style of pitching.
With five quality starts in five outings already under his belt this season, Colorado Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland will take the hill at Chavez Ravine on Saturday night looking to help his team snap out of a funk that has seen the Rockies fall from 11-3 to 13-13.
The 27-year-old Freeland entered the season with plenty of questions surrounding what it would take for him to bounce back from a 3-11 record in 2019 where he also spent time in Triple-A after a demotion. However, a tweak in his delivery and more emphasis on the changeup has resulted in some of the positives surrounding the southpaw through his first five starts (2-1 record, 2.56 ERA, 1.11 WHIP).
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During a Zoom interview on Friday, I asked Freeland about the lessons he has learned from each of his starts this season that he is using to hopefully continue his upward trajectory.
"“I’ve learned that the adjustments that I’ve made this offseason have begun to pay off,” Freeland told me. “I’ve learned that spreading out your pitch mix in a closer or more even percentage has helped me quite a bit, especially incorporating that changeup and that curveball more and more. That has helped me keep hitters off-balance and has helped me not fall into a rut of fastball-slider. It’s also helping make sure that I’m evenly distributing my entire arsenal across the start.”"
So far this season, the even spread of Freeland’s arsenal is showing off, including that much-discussed changeup that, according to Baseball Savant, he is throwing 31.4 percent of the time (compared to 12.5 percent in 2019). That’s more than any other pitch and has, so far, kept hitters off-balance, as Freeland mentioned. The exit velocity on Freeman’s pitches that draw contact averages a career-low 85.8 mph. The average launch angle of 3.3 is also a career-low.
After back-to-back seasons where the four-seamer was Freeland’s most-used pitch (39.9 and 41.5 percent, respectively), it’s slipped to 24.4 percent. Freeland’s slider usage is down roughly 10 percent as well, registering at 20.8 percent usage heading into Saturday’s game.
The curveball, meanwhile, has gone from 4.6 (2018) and 6.1 (2019) percent usage to 18.8 percent in 2020. That makes four pitches that Freeland is throwing 18.8 percent of the time or more this season, representing a fairly even outing each time on the mound that has kept hitters guessing.
It took a lot of work last season and this offseason for Freeland to revamp not only his delivery but also his reliance on a different pitch. However, through his first five starts, the results are certainly paying dividends for Freeland and the Rockies.