Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Kyle Freeland’s season deserves more attention

6 Comments

Rockies starter Kyle Freeland pitched into the seventh inning on Thursday afternoon against the division rival Diamondbacks. Ultimately, the lefty was on the hook for three runs over 6 1/3 innings on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts. The Rockies went on to win 10-3, increasing their lead in the NL West over the Dodgers to two games and the D-Backs to four games.

Freeland improves his season stats to 15-7 with a 2.96 ERA and a 159/64 K/BB ratio in 182 2/3 innings. He isn’t the best pitcher in the National League and he won’t win the NL Cy Young Award, but we should be talking about his impressive season more than we currently are.

When a hitter has an outstanding season with the Rockies, the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field are used as a cudgel against any argument that that player should earn an award or just praise in general. This is the case for shortstop Trevor Story, who has catapaulted himself into the NL MVP conversation. It was true for Charlie Blackmon, who won the batting title last year. Rarely do people apply Coors credit in reverse: praising pitchers for succeeding in the toughest park for pitchers.

Freeland could become just the third Rockies pitcher to pitch enough innings to qualify for the Cy Young Award and finish the season with an ERA under 3.00. Ubaldo Jimenez did it last in 2010 (2.88) and Marvin Freeman accomplished it in 1994 (2.80). What makes Freeland’s success even more impressive is that his home/road splits are the opposite of what we would expect: he pitches better at Coors Field. His home ERA is 2.21 with 76 strikeouts and 29 walks in 81 1/3 innings. His road ERA is 3.51 with 77 strikeouts and 34 walks in 95 innings.

Freeland also sticks out like a sore thumb compared to his rotation mates. German Marquez is the only other pitcher with a respectable ERA, at 3.94 over 29 starts. Tyler Anderson is at 4.89 in 29 starts, Jon Gray 4.80 in 28, Chad Bettis 5.23 in 19 starts and five relief appearances, and Antonio Senzatela 5.01 over 10 starts and 10 relief appearances. One wonders where the Rockies might be without Freeland.

Jacob deGrom should win the Cy Young Award in the National League. He probably will. For whatever it’s worth, however, Freeland is worthy of consideration for second-, third-, and fourth-place votes along with Max Scherzer, Aaron Nola, and Mike Foltynewicz. And, in general, his season is worthy of a lot more respect and attention than he’s currently getting.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
15 Comments

The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.

Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.

As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.

Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.

The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”