What Statcast says about the Colorado Rockies’ starters
By Kevin Larson
A month has gone by and the Colorado Rockies have started to surpass our expectations for this season. It’s buoyed by the fact that they’ve played 16 of their first 26 games at Coors Field, but they’re surpassing preseason expectations and projections nonetheless (now projected for a 74-88 record on Fangraphs, previously was at 68-94).
The starting rotation has been pretty solid (95 ERA-), but it’s happened in an unexpected way. The top-end of the rotation is struggling (Kyle Freeland and Germán Márquez). The back-end has been solid (Austin Gomber and Chad Kuhl). Antonio Senzatela has been playing with fire but hasn’t gotten really burnt yet.
So what’s real and what isn’t? Let’s take a look at what Statcast says about the Colorado Rockies’ starters and find out what to expect for the remainder of the season. We’ll start with Saturday night’s starter.
What does Statcast say about the Colorado Rockies’ starting pitchers?
Take one look at Colorado Rockies Opening Day starter Kyle Freeland and his Statcast profile and you’re probably not all too shocked. He ranks right around the 30th percentile in the following categories:
- Hard Hit percentage
- K percentage
- Whiff percentage
- Average Exit Velocity
He’s been getting hit fairly hard, but not terribly hard. It’s leading to a .342 wOBA. That’s basically saying hitters are a slightly worse Ryan McMahon (.352 wOBA) when they face Freeland. The results are pretty true right now also as Freeland’s xwOBA is .338 so far. He’s gotten a touch unlucky, but not to a degree where it’s game-changing.
His pitch mix isn’t dramatically different from last season, rather the only considerable change is his fastball usage and slider usage have essentially flipped, making his slider his pitch of choice.
Hitters are simply seeing him better right now compared to last season, though, especially with his curveball. Last season hitters only tagged him for a .214 wOBA on his curveball. This season they’re hitting it for a .327 wOBA, the highest year-over-year increase of his four pitches.
So is Freeland doomed?
No, not necessarily. He’s been getting unlucky results on his slider and to quite a drastic degree. Hitters are hitting his slider for a .329 wOBA, but that comes along with a .238 xwOBA. To put this into terms of more traditional statistics, hitters have a .269 batting average against his slider but it has a .171 expected batting average. That’s quite the gap!
The rest of his pitch mix has varied results in terms of what’s lucky and unlucky, but none as drastic as the gap for his slider. I would expect that throughout the rest of the season we see some better results out of Freeland, especially when we look at some of his other advanced stats (3.80 FIP, 3.62 xFIP).
His 3.94 ERA will come down a touch and we’ll continue to see good results out of Freeland. We may not see him get back to his 2018 Cy Young finalist season, but he’s settled down after two rough starts to begin the season and is in a great groove right now.