HomeTeamsRockiesGlimpsing Colorado’s Ace in Action

Glimpsing Colorado’s Ace in Action

The 13th Spring Training game matchup between the Colorado Rockies and the Texas Rangers looked like the boys in purple were testing a probable lineup against the World Series Champs on Wednesday at Salt River Fields.

The Rockies started with veteran Kyle Freeland on the mound for his second start this Cactus League season. Freeland is the expected 2024 Ace from Colorado’s rotation, so it is assumed that fans will not get a lot of chances to see him in games before the regular season. However, the three innings Freeland pitched were a dramatic improvement over his last matchup against the Rangers. The hometown leftie struck out five and walked one, but Freeland gave up one hit and it cost him an earned run.

Freeland faced 10 batters in three innings. The second inning is where some elements came together to work against Freeland’s efforts. First, Freeland unleashed the changeup he worked on in the off season. It caught Justin Foscue looking on the first pitch when it sailed across the near center of the strike zone at 86 MPH. Foscue got a piece of it on the second pitch that went foul but grounded out on the 92 MPH slider. This combination of changeups and sliders, along with the four-seam fastball and knuckle curve, are most likely to comprise Freeland’s primary arsenal in 2024.

The second batter Freeland faced in the second inning was Ezequiel Duran, and it is hard to tell if he was fooled by the lefties sliders or if Duran was recognizing that Freeland’s attempts were just barely wide of where they needed to be. Either way, Duran took a walk to first and then capitalized on a passed ball by Jacob Stallings to steal second. Those events set up Freeland’s one ER of the day.

Davis Wendzel came to the plate and sent the first pitch to leftfield for a solid double, which brought Duran home and put the Rangers on the board. Freeland retired the side with a sinker to Andrew Knapp that grounded out.

Unshaken by the run, Freeland returned to the mound in the third and unleashed his knuckle curve. Both Jonathan Henandez and Wyatt Langford went down swinging at the 85 MPH knuckle curve for the first and third outs. Marcus Semien did manage to get a piece of it, but Ezequiel Tovar easily handled it for the second out of the inning. That was it for Freeland’s day, but in three innings he seemed to add some visuals to the reports of work put in throughout the off season.

The ACE for the Rockies in 2024 will probably not be bringing heat of any sort of astounding level. Freeland has admittedly and steadily lost velocity since 2019, which was evidenced by low 90s fastballs on Wednesday. However, Freeland’s ability to expand his repertoire by fleshing out some new and interesting movement for his consistent mid-80 MPH pitches does seem to point to interesting potential to catch batters looking in 2024.

Overall, Colorado’s 2024 bullpen and rotation strategy still seems far from set. Freeland in the lead spot gives him another opportunity to become the veteran leader many fans believe he can become, but it also seems to point in the direction of a contact pitching strategy that the Rockies defense will need to be ready to support.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here