The Rockies currently have four rookies (Freeland, Jeff Hoffman, who started Friday night against the Pirates, German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela) and a second-year man, Jon Gray. Expected back from injury for the stretch run are righties Tyler Chatwood, 27 (right calf strain), and Chad Bettis (making rehab starts after a bout with testicular cancer), 28, and second-year lefty Tyler Anderson, 27 (expected back in August from cleanup surgery on his left knee).
Chatwood will be eligible for free agency at season's end. Outside of him, the earliest anyone would be up for free agency would be Gray and Anderson in 2022.
And there are waves of young pitching behind them. Three of the Rockies' top five prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com, are right-handed pitchers -- Riley Pint, No. 2, Ryan Castellani, No. 3, and Peter Lambert, No. 5. Left-hander Sam Howard, No. 13, was a third-round 2014 pick already at Triple-A Albuquerque, and struck out eight in his last start and 10 two starts before that.
Since becoming GM after the 2014 season, Bridich has traded just one starter -- Eddie Butler, during the offseason, to the Cubs for relief prospect James Farris. With an established starter likely to cost some of the young Minor League pitching, and with the success homegrown pitching has shown this year, the Rockies seem likely to try to hold onto the quality and depth.
"It's good for the long run, not just this year," said Gray, who started Opening Day. "Everybody coming up has done really well this year, and getting that under their belt is giving them confidence."
Granted, the young pitchers are discussing new territory. But veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan, who has been to three postseasons, noted that he's seen big-game stuff from the current crew. Hanigan was sold during a rough stretch before the All-Star break, when all of the starters had shaky outings, but with help from manager Bud Black, pitching coach Steve Foster and bullpen coach Darren Holmes, mad adjustments to find their stride again.
"Whatever the front office wants to do, they know what's best for the organization, and I can't comment on that too much, but I've got a lot of confidence in these guys, for real," Hanigan said. "I wouldn't just say that to put it out there. That's how I feel.
"They've got a lot of confidence. They're getting better. On their good days, they can beat anybody. We just need to have as many good days as we can."
Black said, "What we like about them is what they have on the top of their shoulders -- their intent in how they go about it. This is baptism under fire for a lot of these guys, pitching in a regular season on a team that's going well.
"With Tyler Anderson, Chatwood and Bettis, we feel as though we have depth and talented depth."