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Apr 2, 2024 8:25 am

Second season start on tap for Rockies’ Kyle Freeland as he faces Cubs

Kyle Freeland

The weather wasn’t ideal for baseball at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon, and Tuesday night, it doesn’t look much better for the second contest of a three-game series between the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs.

Chicago won its home opener 5-0 on a cold, rainy Monday afternoon behind a strong debut from Shota Imanaga, the team’s second straight win after it started the season with two losses against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

The Cubs will try to make it three wins in a row when they send right-hander Javier Assad against Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland on Tuesday.

The forecast calls for a chance of rain and temperatures around 40 degrees for Assad’s season debut.

He will face the Rockies for the fourth time — and third start — in his career and is 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA against them. His lone win against Colorado came Sept. 23, 2023, when he pitched four scoreless innings.

Assad didn’t find out he would be a part of the rotation until the final week of spring training when Cubs manager Craig Counsell announced he and Jordan Wicks would round out the rotation.

The Cubs now have three homegrown pitchers in the rotation as well as Imanaga, who came from the Japan Central League.

Assad has shown enough that he deserves a chance to stay a starter.

“He’s really proved himself very valuable, and it’s nice to have some depth, knock on wood,” said Jed Hoyer, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations. “I think it’s important with our young players to give them opportunities.”

Freeland (0-1, 38.57 ERA) is a homegrown Colorado product in two ways. He was drafted by the organization and was born in Denver a month after the Rockies played the first game in franchise history. He grew up 20 minutes from Coors Field.

Freeland looked like the ace of the future when he went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 2018 but has struggled since. He has just 27 wins since that season, when he finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award voting, and he is coming off of a forgettable first start of 2024.

Freeland allowed 10 runs on 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings at Arizona on Opening Day. He gave up eight runs in the third inning, when the Diamondbacks scored 14 times.

“Everything was left middle and up,” Freeland said after the loss. “I wasn’t hitting my spots well at all. I wasn’t executing well at all. And a team like that, which has good bats all the way through, took advantage of every single mistake.”

The outing came after a solid spring training in which he went 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in five starts.

Freeland will make his sixth career regular-season start against Chicago. He is 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA in his five previous regular-season outings, one of which came at Wrigley Field.

His best start against the Cubs came in the NL wild-card game in Chicago on Oct. 2, 2018. Freeland scattered four hits and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings in a game Colorado won in 13 innings. It remains his only postseason appearance.

–Field Level Media

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