Pitching in Colorado is always going to be viewed as a negative for fantasy owners, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t hold value. Which side will Kyle Freeland fall on? Will he step up and emerge? Or will he fall victim to Coors Field and become a non-factor.
The 2020 surface numbers give mixed hope:
46 Strikeouts (5.86 K/9)
23 Walks (2.93 BB/9)
51.5% Groundball Rate
Both the control and groundball rate give hope, though both were better than his career marks (3.29 BB/9, 49.2% groundball rate). Even at those levels they’d be enough, though it’s not like he thrived while pitching on the road (4.18 ERA).
The problem lies in his strikeout rate, or lack thereof. He simply doesn’t miss many bats, with a 9.0% SwStr%. It’s interesting that he saw a decline in the swings and misses, as he changed his pitch mix fairly dramatically:
He clearly was more focused on throwing sliders and changeup, though it didn’t help with the strikeouts. In fact the only pitch that he threw that generated a double digit Whiff% was his cutter, with a 16.17% Whff%. It’s hard to envision a sudden change given the numbers, and that’s going to zap him of any potential upside.
While the groundball rate is solid, when that many balls are put in play at Coors Field there are going to be problems. If there were signs of a possible 7.50 K/9 we’d be more willing to buy in, but as is it’s a tough sell. There could be viable starting pitchers in Colorado, but Freeland is a hard sell as one of them. He’s nothing more than a streaming option, and even that may be a stretch.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball