Will Kyle Freeland's increase in velocity lead to a bounce back 2024 season as the Rockies ace?

The slender lefty Denver native, Kyle Freeland is looking for a bounce back season in 2024, and so far, he looks well up to the task.

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

Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland was born in Denver in 1993, and he enters his seventh season with his hometown team. After attending Thomas Jefferson High School and then Evansville University, the Rockies made the 6'4 hometown kid the eighth overall pick in 2014. Freeland made his MLB debut in 2017 against the Dodgers and recorded the win, as well as a base hit (he would also homer in May 2017), making him the first player in 51 years to start the home debut for the team in the state he was born in.

Since then, Freeland has been a mainstay in the Rockies rotation, providing stability and a respectable 55-65 record with a 4.39 ERA and 735 strikeouts in nearly 1000 innings pitched. Having a breakout season in 2018, Freeland set the franchise record for home ERA (2.40) at the always hitter friendly Coors Field. Starting in the 2018 NL Wild Card game against the Cubs, Kyle Freeland threw six and two thirds' innings, allowing only four hits and one walk, in a 13-inning victory for the Rockies.

Unfortunately, 2019 would see a massive decline by Freeland seeing a brief stint in AAA, and though he would return to the MLB roster, his season statistics were truly abysmal, I would share them here, but I can't in good conscience, in case there are any children reading. Since then, his career has recovered and he has found a nice home near the top of the Rockies rotation, signing a five-year extension in 2022, and has posted some pretty decent, albeit not spectacular seasons, including a tough 2023 which saw him end with a 5.03 ERA.

2024 is a new year however, and hopefully with it, we can see another bounce back season from Freeland who will likely be the opening day starter, let's take a look at what we can expect from Freeland in 2024.

Coming into 2024, Freeland will likely be penciled in as the opening day starter for the Rockies on the road in Phoenix to face the defending NL champion, Arizona Diamondbacks. So far through two games in Spring Training, Freeland has been dominant, posting a 3.00 ERA with 11 strikeouts over nine innings and a 0.89 WHIP in three games. A small sample size, yes, but the most encouraging aspect is that he has shown an uptick in velocity, averaging 92 mph, nearly three miles per hour faster than his average fastball in 2023. The increase in velocity, he credits to increasing his shoulder strength and working on new pitch grips, as all of his pitches have shown marked improvement in velocity, which is a very encouraging sign for the Rockies lefty.

With this, it is fair to estimate that he will have an ERA closer to four this year, with an increase in strikeouts, having only 94 in 2023. The most important thing Freeland brings is consistency; aside from 2019 and 2020, he has pitched in around 30 games each season, and there is no reason to expect any less than 28 games (barring injury). Expect at least 100 punchouts, and less homeruns surrendered than last year (29) with more sharpness in all of his pitches.

Overall, Freeland should give the Rockies a season that will help support a questionable rotation and bridge the gap until they get Marquez and Senzatela back. Anticipate a strong season for the Denver native pitching in his very tough to pitch in home ballpark.

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