Kyle Freeland continues to evolve as a pitcher, and the biggest changes are obvious.
He’s worked on his delivery and he’s throwing more changeups in 2020. A lot more.
“It's a great pitch to get hitters off my fastball,” said Freeland, who will start Thursday in the series finale against the Giants. “Throughout the start of my career, I favored fastball and slider, two pitches with a little bit of movement. With this changeup coming out of my hand, hitters see it as a fastball. … I think it's very important to keep hitters off balance with throwing a pitch that looks like a certain pitch.”
Freeland is relying on the changeup as his primary pitch this season and has thrown it 28.8 percent of the time, which is a career-high. The strategy is working. Hitters have a batting average of .182 and are slugging near .180 against the changeup. He has not allowed an extra-base hit on the pitch in 2020.
Consider this: Freeland has thrown 47 changeups this season -- 44 to right-handed hitters. He’s thrown 40 fastballs and 39 sliders. He’s also thrown 28 curveballs.
“Kyle's made some great adjustments over the last 12 months,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He’s gone from a guy who was heavy fastball-slider combination to a pitcher that I think has four quality pitches.”
Last season, Freeland threw a changeup 12.5 percent of the time and 13.7 percent in 2018. He threw 28 changeups in his last start.
Wade Davis, who is on the injured list with a strained right shoulder, has not started to throw and continues to receive treatment.
Davis, who struggled in his first Coors Field appearance of 2020 last week, converted two saves at Texas to begin the season. He had two outs and a one-run lead in the ninth inning against the Padres on Friday, but gave up two home runs. Two days later, he was placed on the IL.
Last season, Davis’s 8.65 ERA was second highest in MLB history for a reliever with 50 or more appearances. He had an 11.10 ERA in 29 appearances at Coors Field.
Considering the club has 33 games in 34 days, the team will likely use some combination of Jairo Díaz, Carlos Estévez and Yency Almonte, who notched his first save Tuesday, in the closer’s role in Davis’ absence.