Rockies’ Freeland, back from groin ailment, faces Braves
DENVER — The best-case scenario will unfold Tuesday for rookie Kyle Freeland when he returns to the Colorado Rockies’ rotation and starts against the Atlanta Braves.
The left-hander will be reinstated after missing only one start due to a left groin strain that forced him to leave his Aug. 4 outing against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning.
Freeland (11-7, 3.70 ERA) will be opposed by left-hander Sean Newcomb (1-7, 4.45).
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Excluding the Phillies game, Freeland has made quality starts in eight of 10 starts at Coors Field, where he is 6-4 with a 3.19 ERA with a 3.19 ERA. He has never faced the Braves.
Freeland leads major league rookies in wins and ERA, ranks second in innings pitched (121 2/3) and leads National League rookies in games started (21). Freeland has won his past three decisions.
He will take the mound paying no heed to his groin and confident he is fully recovered, largely because of a 35-pitch bullpen session he threw Saturday at Miami. That side work convinced Freeman, the Rockies’ trainers, pitching coaches and manager Bud Black that he was ready.
“The big one was the bullpen, being able to push off that slope and push with like 90-100 percent intensity in my bullpen and knowing that I’m not hesitating on it, I’m not worried about it,” Freeland said. “I’m more focused on my pitches. It was a good bullpen. It feels like I haven’t lost any time.”
The Rockies (66-52) are coming off a 3-0 win over Atlanta on Monday, just their second victory in seven games. Colorado has not scored more than three runs in any of those games and has scored exactly three runs in five consecutive games. In their past seven games, two of which were at Coors Field, the Rockies are 9-for-59 (.153) with runners in scoring position.
The Braves (52-64) fell for the sixth in seven games Monday. It was their 19th loss in the past 26 games since they came out of the All-Star break with a three-game sweep against the Arizona Diamondbacks that raised their record to .500.
As they rebuild, the Braves are committed to playing promising young players such as second baseman Ozzie Albies, whose five-game hitting streak in which he was 6-for-18 ended Monday when he went 0-for-4.
The switch-hitting Albies, 20, came to the majors for the first time Aug. 1 when the Braves selected his contract from Triple-A Gwinnett. In 12 games, he is hitting .205 (8-for-39) with one double, two homers and seven RBIs.
“He’s got tools,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I had him for a short time in Triple-A last year before I came up here. He’s just a talented young guy. It’s been good for him to get up here and see the speed of the game and to play here. You can’t replicate it in Triple-A.
“He’s a real talented kid, mature for his age. He’s been the youngest player in a league everywhere he’s gone.”
Newcomb, 24, made his major league debut June 10. The Braves are 2-9 in his starts. He lost his last outing 3-2 against Philadelphia on Wednesday, giving up five hits and three runs (two earned) in six innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
Newcomb has lost five consecutive decisions over a seven-start stretch since his lone win at San Diego on June 27, when he pitched six scoreless innings in Atlanta’s 3-0 victory.