Another key assessment as to whether Kyle Freeland has returned to his 2018 form comes Saturday when the Colorado Rockies left-hander faces the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Freeland (2-1, 2.56 ERA) has five quality starts in five tries this season and looks much more like the pitcher who finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting two seasons ago as opposed to the one who stumbled to a 3-11 record last season with a 6.73 ERA and was demoted to Triple-A for a stretch.
Losers of eight of their past nine games, including five in a row, the Rockies could use a strong outing from a starter. The Dodgers have won nine of their past 10 and five consecutive at home.
In that magical 2018 season, Freeland had a 2.77 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers. Last season, when he struggled to meet the expectations from the prior year, he had an 11.12 ERA in two outings against Los Angeles.
Freeland will enter Saturday’s outing coming off a strong performance against the Houston Astros on Monday, when he gave up two runs on seven hits over six innings in a 2-1 loss. In his four previous starts, the Rockies won each game.
In five career starts at Dodger Stadium, he is 0-2 with a 3.96 ERA and on Saturday will face one of the best offenses in the major leagues. His improved composure this season, mixed with a sure-fire determination, will come in handy against the Dodgers.
“(Freeland) wears his emotion on his sleeve a lot and that’s why he is good,” Rockies shortstop Trevor Story told reporters. “He’s always a competitor and super fiery on the mound. We love that and we love playing behind that.”
Freeland will be locked in a duel against a young pitcher who also has shown composure far beyond his years. Dodgers rookie right-hander Dustin May (1-1, 3.00) was dropped into an Opening Day meeting with the rival San Francisco Giants when Clayton Kershaw came up with a bad back.
The 22-year-old May gave up one run over 4 1/3 innings in that one, and the Dodgers started the shortened season with a victory. He has made four more starts and has not given up more than two earned runs in any of them, but lasted just 4 1/3 innings in an outing against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
On offense, the Dodgers will have a fresh Mookie Betts back in the leadoff spot. The 2018 American League MVP as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Betts got the night off Friday after starting 14 consecutive games following his return from a finger injury.
“Just to get him off his feet, get him a spa day,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters about Betts before Friday’s game. “(We’re) going to try to stay away from him and get him back in there (Saturday).”
Betts was just 1 for 11 over his past three starts, after going 10 for 23 with five home runs in the five games prior to that.
The Dodgers got two more hits and an RBI from Cody Bellinger in Friday’s 5-1 victory over the Rockies as he continued to emerge from a slow start. He had home runs in consecutive games against the Mariners earlier in the week, and his batting average climbed over .200 for the first time this season on Friday.
No Rockies batter had multiple hits Friday and they struck out 14 times against four Dodgers pitchers, with 11 of those Ks coming against right-hander Walker Buehler.
–Field Level Media