PHOENIX -- The rest of the story sounds good in relation to left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland, who put up stellar numbers in his latest start at Triple-A Albuquerque. Now, will his next start be back with the Rockies?
The fall has been painstakingly chronicled -- from fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting last year to an option to Albuquerque after struggling through his first 12 starts (2-6, 7.13 ERA). But in his last start for Albuquerque, Freeland went seven innings with nine strikeouts, against four hits, two walks and one run.
In six Triple-A starts, Freeland is 0-4 with an 8.80 ERA, but much of that process was correcting the issues that led to his big league troubles. If those get corrected, his Triple-A stats become meaningless.
“You’re always trying to pitch to a standard to pitch in the big leagues,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “There are certain principles that apply, even in a Minor League game. Kyle, in his last start, pitched very well to Major League standards.
“The All-Star break is coming. He’ll take a little exhale and at some point we’ll -- meaning our organization -- will get him on a schedule of when he’s going to pitch next.”
Black didn’t say for which team, but the Rockies are going into the break with just four starters. While road performance has been solid -- 2.49 rotation ERA during the last nine-game trip -- the rotation has taken water at home, with a 7.50 ERA in the last 13 games. The post-break schedule begins July 12 with a seven-game homestand against the Reds (three games) and Giants (four).
It would not be a bad time to reset with Freeland, who was the team’s Opening Day starter.
This is the second straight year the Opening Day starter required a Triple-A tuneup. Jon Gray was sent down at the end of June last year, and returned to post improved marks of 5-2 and a 4.37 ERA for the remainder of the regular season.
Freeland had directives, such as regaining proper direction toward home plate throughout his motion, and actually using what could develop into an effective changeup. There is no replicating the Majors, but some information can be drawn out of how he handles stress points.
“All the reports are saying that has happened and there’s been some growth in the areas that we’ve asked him to work on, and the signs are pointing in the right direction,” Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster said.
“I believe in Kyle," Rockies right-hander German Marquez said. "We need this guy here soon, to be a strong rotation. He needs to be the same Freeland [as last year].
“I sent him a text basically saying, ‘You are good. The bad things, throw them away.’”
Infielder Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies’ top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, worked out with the club before Friday’s game but is on the injured list with a right shoulder impingement. He had spent the previous days working out at the team’s complex at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Rodgers has batted .224 with no home runs and seven RBIs in two stints with the club before the injury. Rodgers showed dynamic power potential in the Minors, but acknowledges being “a little jumpy and drifty” in the batter’s box in the Majors. Rodgers is being patient with himself on the field, but the injury has him frustrated.
“No one likes the [IL],” Rodgers said. “It’s a bummer. I watch the guys on TV every night at my condo out here. My main goal is to get healthy as quickly as possible and be out here helping these guys.”