If the Colorado Rockies want to have any chance of being competitive in 2020, their pitching staff will need to improve substantially.
The Rockies have never been known to thrive on the mound, but the franchise was able to buckle down during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, enabling them to make the postseason.
However, consistency has always been the problem for Colorado. The 2019 season was a harsh reminder of that and the difficulty to pitch at altitude.
Colorado’s pitching staff combined for a 5.56 earned run average in 2019, the highest mark in the National League. Injuries also forced the Rockies to cycle through numerous starting pitchers last season.
Starting pitcher Kyle Freeland endured the worst season of his professional career in 2019, pitching to a 6.73 ERA and at one point was demoted to Triple-A.
Freeland’s struggles last season was just one of many issues the Rockies were forced to deal with, but the southpaw is confident he has put last season behind him and is rejuvenated entering 2020.
“Every season is a clean slate,” Freeland said. “We are not looking to repeat 2018 or 2017. Obviously, we do not want to repeat 2019. It’s a new season, a new slate.”
Despite the new “clean slate.” Freeland plans to use last season as motivation and a learning opportunity to improve.
“It is something that will stick with me for the rest of my career and will be a learning point because it was one of the lowest lows in my life,” Freeland said.
Part of the reason Freeland feels he is primed for success in 2020 is his new delivery. He eliminated the pause in his windup in favor of a more traditional, fluid motion.
Freeland used a traditional windup growing up and added the pause in his motion starting in 2017. After experiencing success during the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the pause, Freeland decided to return to his roots because he feels it will allow him to be more consistent.
“(I am) going back to a more natural, old fashioned type of delivery where there is no more pause or delay,” Freeland said. “It’s one fluid motion to allow me to repeat my mechanics easier.”
Freeland is just one cog in Colorado’s rotation, but his performance will be pivotal for the Rockies in the coming season.
Jon Gray was the Rockies’ best starting pitcher last season and took over as their No. 1 starter after Freeland and German Marquez regressed.
The Rockies have not spent any money on their professional roster during the offseason, meaning they will enter the season with virtually the same cast of characters.
Colorado is banking on their pitchers to improve substantially, and Freeland believes the rotation will show out.
“We are core guys that have known each other for quite a long time,” Freeland said of the rotation. “We are young and still hungry. I believe this is the year that is going to be a bounce-back year for us. We have the stuff to get done and goals we want to hit.”