DENVER – On April 12, 2017, Denver native Kyle Freeland made the second start of his major league career against the San Diego Padres.
You may not remember that start. You’re likely far more familiar with the one right before it; the opening day extravaganza against the Los Angeles Dodgers that stole the heart of this baseball city, the shutout in his first start, at the place he grew up watching baseball.
But that second start against the Pads, in hindsight, is more interesting.
What could be so interesting about 4.2 IP with eight hits and six earned runs given up? As it has turned out, now through two full seasons, that was by far the worst outing of his career.
It is the only game in which he has ever given up six or more runs. He has given up five runs in a game only five times. Of his first 61 starts in MLB, 55 have seen him give up four or fewer runs.
That may not seem like much when compared to pitchers like Jacob DeGrom, Max Scherzer, and a handful of others, but that level of consistency is not only unheard of for someone who spends half their outings at Coors Field, nothing even in that realm has been seen up to and including the best of Ubaldo Jimenez.
There has been much debate over the years about what the altitude, or the big outfield, or the unique travel, do to the baseball club. Does it create a hangover effect that makes pitches much more difficult to track out on the road? Does it simply lead to an inordinate number of cheap hits, meaning that limiting contact should be key?
Does the ball really fly any farther in the humidor era?
But one thing has emerged as clear as an October day in the Colorado sun. It is remarkably difficult to remain consistent.