Jack Etkin/Forbes: Freeland Takes First Steps to Rebound from 2019 Struggles
By Jack Etkin/Forbes.com
These have been the earliest returns for Kyle Freeland, bullpen sessions before spring training with no hitter poised at the plate ready to swing in earnest. Nothing definitive.
But considering the depths to which Freeland plummeted last season, considering how important he is to a Rockies revival this year and considering the significant change Freeland is making to his delivery during this offseason, the favorable signs from these bullpen sessions at the Rockies complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., do matter.
What manager Bud Black lyrically called “that flamingo pause” when the left-handed Freeland lifted his front leg high and stopped before planting it and coming down the mound is gone.
“It’s really helping him be more efficient,” said Steve Merriman, the Rockies’ pitching coordinator for their upper minor league levels. “When you can move more efficiently, you can repeat that movement more often. You can locate (the ball). You know where it’s going.
“Obviously, it’s early. Location isn’t always the relevant piece at the start of these things. But he looks free. He looks athletic. Just his ability to start to do some things that he wants to do with some pitches has been pretty evident. It’s been good. It’s him; it’s who he is.”
Merriman and bullpen coach Darryl Scott have been working this offseason with Freeland. His delivery has been the top priority. Additionally, Merriman is particularly well-versed in analytics and technical tools that can help pitchers. Black said Merriman has started working with Freeland on the spin rate of his breaking pitches.