Kyle Freeland is dominating in spring training, thanks to his improved velocity

Freeland looks like a different pitcher!

2024 Colorado Rockies Spring Training
2024 Colorado Rockies Spring Training / Kyle Cooper/Colorado Rockies/GettyImages

The Rockies 2024 pitching staff isn't expected to be a very good one, probably a bottom five rotation in the game. They will be banking on a couple of bounce back years from veterans, Dakota Hudson, and Cal Quantrill. They will also look to have a breakout year from one of their young pitchers like Ryan Feltner or Peter Lambert.

The one constant in this rotation has been Kyle Freeland. He has at times, been very good (posting a crazy 4.1 fWAR season in 2018). Since then, he has been hovering around a 1-2.5 fWAR pitcher, a good pitcher but just not at the same level as that 2018 season. His strikeout rates are slightly down, while he hasn't been able to replicate the same success of keeping the baseball in the park.

Freeland is a pitcher that has usually relied on a fastball, slider combination that he has utilized to keep hitters off balance. His baseball savant page paints a very interesting picture of how he has tried to change his game. In his 2018 season, he threw his fastball nearly 40% of the time, and the slider was used at a 29.3% rate. In 2023, the fastball usage was all the way down to 18.4%, while the slider decreased slightly to 23.6%. The big issue here is that Freeland's average fastball velocity has gone from nearly 92 mph, all the way down to just under 89 mph; this makes it hard to rely on your fastball when its 3 mph slower.

Freeland talked this spring about the strength training regimen he was under this offseason; he worked more with plyoballs and ensuring his shoulder was stronger than in previous seasons. He also did a lot more band work and long toss this offseason and it has really paid off.

In Freeland's first start, he was already sitting 92-93 mph and looked to be in control of his fastball. He was extremely effective throwing two innings, with just 21 pitches and 20 of them being strikes. He struck out just one batter but didn't allow a walk or a hit. This will be huge as the free passes and contact can be dangerous, especially playing at Coors Field.

Freeland built upon this start today, throwing three innings, just 42 pitches. He was able to strike out five of the nine batters, while walking only one. He surrendered his only earned run on a two out double but escaped the jam with a ground out the next pitch. His velocity looked just as good, sitting 92-93 mph again, even into the third inning, touching 94 a few times with a good slider and mixing in a curveball well. This is the pitcher that the Rockies need and the pitcher we know Freeland can be.

Hopefully Freeland's improved strength can help him keep this velocity throughout the year. Freeland's velocity being back could go a long way in taking him from a 1-2 fWAR pitcher and moving him back into that next tier as a potential 3+ fWAR pitcher and becoming the ace this staff knows he is.

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