(Kyle Freeland photo courtesy Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Saturday, July 13, Coors Field, Denver, Colo., 8:10 p.m. EDT.
It has been a nightmarish 2019 for Kyle Freeland, whose attempt to build on a breakout 17-win season went so awry he was demoted to the minors.
He looks to make the most of his second chance Saturday night when the Colorado Rockies continue their series at Coors Field versus the Cincinnati Reds.
Roark looks to continue solid road pitching for Reds
Despite a sub-.500 overall record, Tanner Roark (5-6, 3.51 ERA) has been Cincinnati’s saving grace on the road. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.05 ERA in eight such starts, and the Reds are 5-3 in those games compared to 12-22 when anyone else gets the ball outside Cincinnati entering Friday night’s contest.
Roark is rumored to be on the wish list of contending teams should the Reds be sellers before the trade deadline, something that could happen with a slow start coming out of the All-Star break.
The Reds got Roark off the hook for a loss in his last start before the break, winning 5-4 in 11 innings after the righty was reached for four runs — all scoring on three home runs — and six hits in 6 2-3 innings.
He is 1-2 with a 3.94 ERA in three career starts against the Rockies, with the lone win coming at Coors Field in April 2017. Roark took a tough-luck loss in his matchup last year, giving up two runs — one earned — and three hits in six innings of a 2-1 defeat pitching for the Washington Nationals.
Rockies hoping Freeland has rediscovered confidence
Few falloffs year-to-year have been as puzzling as Freeland‘s. The left-hander spent the past five weeks at Triple-A Albuquerque after a disastrous seven-start run in which he went 0-3 with a 9.66 ERA.
His numbers with the Isotopes were also far from impressive, as Freeland (2-6, 7.13) went 0-4 with an 8.80 ERA in six starts. But it was the most recent one — along with the need for arms with a Monday doubleheader scheduled versus San Francisco — that prompted the Rockies to give him a second chance.
Freeland recorded a sharp seven-inning outing July 3 in which he limited Sacramento to one run and four hits while striking out nine.
“It wasn’t one of those things where we needed to scratch everything,” Freeland told The Athletic. “It’s a longer process. When it’s a couple little things that throw the big picture off, sometimes they’re the hardest to adjust to, because they’re so small. Sometimes it’s a grip or an arm slot. You can’t really feel it, but you can see the results.”
Freeland’s restored confidence will be tested at hitter-friendly Coors Field, where he went 1-3 with a 9.31 ERA in six starts before being demoted. The Rockies also need Freeland to find that 17-win form from last year considering their starters’ 5.57 ERA is the worst in the majors.
The southpaw is 2-1 in three career starts versus Cincinnati despite a 6.11 ERA, and both wins have come on the road. The home loss came in 2017 when Freeland — who has served up four homers in 17 2-3 innings in those games — was reached for five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-1 setback.
The Rockies are:
- 4-12 in their last 16 Saturday games.
- 1-4 in Freeland’s last five starts following an outing of four or fewer innings in his previous start.
- 2-6 in their last eight games.
The Reds are:
- 5-2 in Roark’s last seven road starts.
Rockies UNDER 7 runs (-110)
This is a confidence pick in Roark, but Colorado’s offense did not exactly go into the All-Star break on a roll and have scored more than seven runs three times in their previous 18 contests.
Additionally, the Reds have allowed more than seven runs just once in Roark’s 17 starts this year and yielded more than five in just two of his eight road outings.
Reds ML (+115)
This pick is equal parts pro-Roark and anti-Freeland. While the timing for the Rockies to call up the left-hander is correct given his last outing and the need for starters with the upcoming doubleheader, where it is sub-optimal is pitching at Coors Field.
Simply put, it is not the place to pitch in order to regain confidence, especially when off-speed pitches flatten out and lose break and one mistake can lead to multiple ones. It also may be one of those starts where Rockies manager Bud Black may let Freeland work through mechanics issues if they arise, which also leads to taking the Reds.
Hopefully you got this line when it opened at +115 because it has since slid to +105.
UNDER 14 runs (-110)
The warmer weather has contributed to the over/under at Coors Field getting progressively higher with each month, but the hedge is that Roark does enough to keep this below the number. The under has delivered in Roark’s last six starts overall and gone 4-1 in his last five on the road.
Additionally, Friday night’s 3-2 win by Colorado extended the under’s run to nine games at Coors Field in the series while improving to 9-2-1 in the last 12 overall between the teams.
The under has gone 5-2 in Freeland’s last seven starts against NL Central teams, but with low expectations for the southpaw, there is more pressure on Roark to help keep this game under two touchdowns.
Reds -0.5 runs first 5 innings (+135)
This is an aggressive play on an alternate line courtesy PointsBet.com based on Roark’s road form. The Reds have trailed after five innings just once in his eight starts (4-1-3) outside Cincinnati.
The expectation is the Reds will come out swinging against Freeland to prevent him from finding a rhythm — the lefty yielded five or more runs in all but one of his six starts at Coors. Also in Cincinnati’s favor is Colorado scoring one or no runs in three of those outings. This number has also dipped during the overnight, slipping to +125.
UNDER 8 runs first 5 innings (-131)
This pick feels like it will come down to whether Black has a quick hook on Freeland if he struggles early. He gave the left-hander plenty of leeway in the first two months of the season, and while the number is stunningly high, the lack of a hook makes the under the play.
Colorado’s inconsistent offense early in games is another factor in taking the under — the Rockies have totaled two runs in the first five innings of their last five games.
Reds OVER 2 runs first 3 innings (+105)
With the belief the Reds will come out swinging against Freeland in their first go-round through the lineup, the over at plus-money had the feel of a solid play. Freeland does not have an ERA below 6.17 in any of the first three innings, including a ghastly 12.27 ERA in the third. The “had” is used since this line is now even money.
Cincinnati has struggled offensively, but the hedge is the Reds can take advantage of Freeland working his way through his first major league start in nearly six weeks.