Talk to the casual baseball fan, and they probably never heard of Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland. As with any starting pitcher who makes most of their starts at Coors Field, the assumption is always they have a high ERA, give up lots of home runs and multi-base hits, and probably have vastly different numbers on the road than at home. Not true when it comes to Freeland. While he does have slightly different numbers on the road than at home, he is actually a much better pitcher in the vast confines of Coors Field than he is on the road. And for these reasons, Kyle Freeland should be heavily considered for the National League Cy Young Award.
In the thin air at Coors Field, where the ball soars like an eagle, hitters have been known to crush the ball. Home runs, triples, and doubles are all hit at a higher pace in Denver than anywhere else in baseball. Hitters who call Coors Field home have had difficulty making their cases to be MVP or even enter the Hall of Fame – just ask Nolan Arenado, Todd Helton, and Larry Walker. Arenado has been a perennial MVP candidate, and should be again this year, but has always had his numbers called into question because of where he plays. Pitchers however are treated differently. It is expected that their number will be bloated, and usually try to run to another ball club as fast as they can.
Kyle Freeland is different. He loves and thrives in the thin Colorado air. Growing up in Denver, he knows all about pitching at altitude. He played his high school ball at Thomas Jefferson High and was named to the All-State team by the Denver Post. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, but chose to attend college instead. After playing for the University of Evansville, Freeland was drafted in 2014 by his hometown team. He spent most of 2014 and 2015 in Single-A, and played in Triple-A in 2016. He made his Major League debut on April 7, 2017 in the Rockies home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and scored his first win. The highlight of his rookie season came on July 9, where he took a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox to the ninth inning but gave up a single to Melky Cabrera. This feat happened at Coors Field of all places too. It was in 2017 that the Rockies knew they had someone special.
It is in his sophomore MLB season where Freeland has really made a name for himself, and has begun to be in Cy Young discussions. For the season, Freeland has made 25 starts and has an 11-7 record. His overall ERA is 2.96 and he has 129 strikeouts. He has been on a tear lately, giving up only six runs in his last five games – all against teams with winning records. Against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 6, Freeland gave up no runs on two hits in seven innings pitched. In his last start against the Atlanta Braves, he gave up one run on three hits in six innings pitched.
It’s in his home-road splits where the numbers really add up nicely for Freeland. As stated earlier, pitchers tend to have inflated numbers at Coors Field compared to other MLB ballparks. For Freeland, this trend is reversed. In 14 starts on the road, Kyle has an ERA of 3.58 and a record of 4-5. He’s thrown 83 innings away and given up a total of 33 runs. At home in Denver, he’s 7-2 with an ERA of 2.22. Let me say that again, an ERA of 2.22 at Coors Field! This is at a park where the average runs per game is 5.27. In 69 innings pitched at home, Freeland has only given up 17 runs. Freeland has been nothing but dominant for the Rockies at home this year.
While he may not be the glamour pick going up against the likes of Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, with the numbers he has produced this year for the Colorado Rockies, Kyle Freeland should be a contender for the National League Cy Young Award this year.