Hometown hero Kyle Freeland is providing huge boost for Rockies

Denver native Kyle Freeland has provided a huge lift for the Rockies. (AP)
Denver native Kyle Freeland has provided a huge lift for the Rockies. (AP)

The Colorado Rockies were among baseball’s best teams in April, finishing the month with a 16-10 record.

When searching for major reasons why, Denver native Kyle Freeland certainly jumps off the page. The 23-year-old left-hander has been a stabilizing presence in a starting rotation that has fueled Colorado’s success.

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Through his first five career starts, which have all come this season, Freeland has posted a sparkling 2.93 ERA. Three of those starts have come at Coors Field, but you’d never know it based on his productions. He has allowed zero or one run or in four starts, while pitching at least six innings in three. Those are major contributions from a pitcher Colorado likely wasn’t planning on needed this early in the season.

Freeland continued his success on Thursday, going 6.1 innings while giving up just one run on three hits as Colorado wrapped up a four-game series with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park with a 3-2 victory in 11 innings.

Freeland’s performance has been especially important given the adversity and uncertainty Colorado has faced this season. Over the course of a few weeks, the Rockies lost Ian Desmond, David Dahl and Jon Gray to injury, while Chad Bettis was given the sobering news that his cancer had returned. That left the Rockies scrambling to fill positions, particularly in the starting rotation.

The young left-hander has not only stepped up, he has provided a boost. His last outing on Friday night in Arizona highlighted his impact.

The Rockies entered the game on a three-game losing streak after being decimated by the Nationals’ sizzling offense at Coors Field. The Diamondbacks offense had been running hot as well. At the time they were an MLB best 11-3 at home, but Freeland limited them to six hits and one run over six innings.

The Rockies went on to win the game 3-1, won the series in Arizona and are positioned to secure a winning trip behind Freeland on Thursday.

While it’s always important to take these small sample sizes with a grain of salt, particularly as it applies to Rockies pitchers, the team can take solace in knowing the hometown boy won’t be intimidated. His familiarity with Denver certainly helps, but so does the confidence that helped make him a first-round pick. When you pitch half your games at Coors Field, confidence is the most important weapon a pitcher can possess.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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