Freeland looks ready to rejoin Rox rotation

May 21st, 2021

Left-hander ’s strong six-inning, 79-pitch performance for Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday night should have him in line to join the Rockies’ starting rotation next week.

Barring complications, he’ll join the rotation when the Rockies travel to face the Mets next week.

Freeland, who sustained a left shoulder strain on March 23 in Spring Training, posted a 1.80 ERA over 10 innings in two injury rehab starts.

“These past two starts with our Triple-A club, I pitched like I would in a big league game,” Freeland said, “using the full mix of things and working with [catcher Brian] Serven behind the plate, making sure I'm checking all the boxes to make sure that in my mind I'm ready to go compete against the best in the world back in Colorado and when we get on the road.”

On Thursday, Freeland went six innings and gave up one run on two hits in his second rehab start, getting the decision in an 8-4 win over visiting Oklahoma City. Freeland finished with four strikeouts, didn’t deal with a baserunner until Keibert Ruiz reached on an error with two outs in the fourth inning and didn’t yield a hit until the fifth.

“Everything felt really good -- my full pitch mix was there, and I was able to keep the hitters off balance from start to finish,” Freeland said. “My fastball was good. My changeup was really good today.

“The curveball here on the moon [elevation about 5,300 feet] really doesn't want to break too much. So we stay away from that, but the slider was good, as well.”

Albuquerque manager Warren Schaeffer said Freeland’s presence was a positive for a club that has multiple players who have never been to the Majors.

“His presence always rubs off on people -- he’s a competitor,” Schaeffer said.

Freeland entered 2021 hoping to continue the momentum he built last year, when he led the Majors with 14 double-play grounders induced during the shortened season. His ERA was 3.69 before a poor final start saw it rise to 4.33.

In his breakout 2018 season, Freeland went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA and finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting, but control issues and injuries led to a 6.73 ERA in ’19. But Freeland developed confidence in his changeup, and it showed last season.

Freeland, who finished his outing Thursday by leaping for a bounding ball to start a double play, said he is eager to help a Rockies club that owns the Majors’ worst record, 15-29.

“It’s tough -- it’s making me champ at the bit even more,” Freeland said.

• Rockies right-handed reliever (middle finger strain on right hand) struck out three and gave up two hits but no runs in what might be his only rehab outing. Estévez struggled early in the season with the Rockies, but in his final five games before going on the injured list, he did not give up any earned runs and had six strikeouts against no walks.

“I thought he was good,” Schaeffer said. “He velo was up. If it was correct on the board, it was 96s and 97s, and he looked healthy. He looked spry on the mound to me.”

• Second baseman , who like Freeland has not appeared in the Majors this year, is expected to be activated Friday before the Rockies open a home series vs. the D-backs. Rodgers sustained a right hamstring injury early in the spring. He went 7-for-15 (.461) with two doubles in five injury rehab games with Albuquerque.

• Infielder , optioned to Albuquerque after the Rockies’ game Wednesday at San Diego, left his first Triple-A game with what Schaeffer called a dislocated finger on his left hand. Schaeffer said trainers popped it back into place, and Trejo will be reassessed Friday.