I’m a Kyle Freeland Guy. What do I mean by that, you ask? I’m a Kyle Freeland Guy because I get that Freeland is an excellent pitcher who gets lost in the fray. I’m a a Kyle Freeland Guy because Freeland’s the type of player who deserves a champion. I know I’m not alone, but this club needs to get bigger. Everyone reading this should take up the cause for Kyle Freeland and become Kyle Freeland Guys, Gals, or however you identify. Everyone’s welcome in the Kyle Freeland Fan Club.
The 25-year-old lefty, born in Denver just a month after the Rockies’ first game, is putting together an All-Star worthy first half and is currently fourth in the NL in rWAR. That’s more than media darling Ross Stripling, more than Miles Mikolas, and more than Jon Lester. Freeland’s 2018 has been one of the few bright spots in a rotation that has struggled to repeat its 2017 success. Kyle Freeland didn’t need me to become a Kyle Freeland Guy but I needed to become a Kyle Freeland Guy. He needs you, too.
Since April 18 (an outing in which he surrendered five runs), Freeland has thrown 10 quality starts. He’s only started 12 times. Ten out of 12 is 83% of the time. When did you ever do something well 83% of the time? I tried to learn guitar and got frustrated I couldn’t do it well 10% of the time. If you tweeted 12 times and 10 went viral you would have 100,000 followers. Kyle Freeland is pitching like he runs one of the best accounts on Twitter.
In April, Kyle allowed 16 runs in 37 innings pitched, which is fine. That’s about what you’d expect a 25-year-old sophomore to surrender pitching half his games at Coors Field. Here is where it gets crazy: since April, Kyle has pitched 611⁄3 innings, and he’s only allowed 20 earned runs. He’s pitched 1.65 as many innings and he’s given up only 1.25 as many runs. That’s called math, learn it.
Freeland’s starts have been everywhere; this hasn’t been a lucky stretch where he’s avoided Coors Field for two months. He shut out the Brewers at home, he beat the Giants at home, he locked down the Reds and Rangers in their gimmick ballparks. Kyle Freeland is the Alabama University football team of pitchers—he’s going to any stadium you want and he’s going to beat you. That’s what he does. Just get used to it.
Kyle didn’t come into the season as someone to watch. That’s okay, he doesn’t need your eyes. All he needs is a ball and 60 feet of dirt. When people started naming rotation members sometimes they’d leave Freeland out or consider him a fringe starter that could get replaced by Jeff Hoffman or Antonio Senzatela. Uhh, sure pal. Not this Kyle Freeland. Surely you were mistaken.
So far, Kyle has shown every sign of improvement that you look for in pitchers. He’s lowered his walk rate (3.6 to 2.9) and upped his K rate (6.2 to 7.4). He’s making guys swing and miss more, he’s putting them on base less, and he’s getting just about everybody out.
Last year, Freeland was a 24-year-old rookie who showed some promise. He impressed in spurts but finished the year with a .284 BAA and allowed batters to OPS .792 against him. This year, he’s 25 and decided that those numbers are much too high. He’s keeping hitters at a .241 BAA and only allowing a .685 OPS against him. Batters are reaching less, they’re hitting for fewer extra bases, and they’re striking out more. This is math but it’s not rocket science folks. Kyle Freeland is good, and he deserves your attention.
If you’re into ERA+ (and you should be) check out Kyle Freeland’s ERA+. It’s 144. That’s good for 8th in the National League. ERA+ is park adjusted so it takes into account Kyle Freeland pitches in a stadium with chasms between outfielders and a cigar cooler making sure the balls don’t fly 600 feet into passing cars. Freeland is like those guys who write a best selling novel while working on security for the nuclear plant or something. Constantly working in danger, crushing it anyway.
Say you took Kyle Freeland out of Coors Field, what do you think would happen? He’d kick your ass is what would happen. Baseball Reference neutralizes pitching environments to tell you how a guy would pitch if he didn’t start half his games in a gravity free space pod where giant dragons tear your ball into a gap regardless of where or how hard it was hit. Freeland’s hits allowed drop a full point, his career ERA drops to 2.39, and he earns a couple no-decisions instead of losses.
Basically, if Kyle Freeland pitched in a non-Coors ballpark he’d be a Cy Young candidate. But he doesn’t care about that—he wants to pitch in Coors. He’s pretty good at that too.
Check this out: in six starts at home this season he’s been outstanding. All that stuff about park neutralization I just talked about? Throw it in the damn trash. Kyle Freeland is a Coors Guy and he is making sure you know it. At home he’s sporting a 2.95 ERA this season, and batters are only hitting .231 against him. And he’s doing it all in a stadium that is famous for consuming the soul of thousands of pitchers.
There are ghosts of pitchers lining the sidewalk warning people from trying to pitch here like it’s a haunted mansion with a mysterious evil. But Kyle doesn’t care. He goes into the evil mansion with a smile on his face and a haircut that I still don’t totally understand. He walks out with a ghost’s head on his shoulder and some kind of ectoplasm keeping his hair in place. Kyle Freeland doesn’t care if you’re scared of Coors because he’s not. He’ll protect you, don’t worry.
In a year in which everyone is going to yell about which pitcher has disappointed them the most in terms of hits allowed, why not instead just forget it all and throw your support behind the Kyle Freeland cause? He’s the favorite son. He just moved down the street. He’s unable to disappoint. Instead of yelling at strangers online, consider this: Don’t. Cheer for Freeland instead.
Join the Kyle Freeland Fan Club today.