Strider’s first outing was marred by some awful defense. Can the Braves avoid that and win four in a row?
After two very different games, including a 13-6 slugfest blowout and a 3-0 extra-innings win that was only the second-ever 0-0 game through regulation at Coors Field, the Braves have their first three-game winning streak of the season. With a win tonight, they can make it four in a row and secure a series win… plus get back to .500 and likely push their playoff odds back above 70 percent. That’s a lot of things to achieve in one game, but the Braves will potentially have some help in these endeavors, as they are sending Spencer Strider out for his second career start.
After ascending to the rotation, Strider had an unfortunate outing against the Diamondbacks. He was charged with five runs in 4 1⁄3 innings, but most of those were nonsense. He allowed a three-run homer after two two-out defensive misplays that resulted in hits in the first. In the fifth, he was (for some reason) asked to pitch to leadoff hitter Daulton Varsho for a third time and walked him with a man on — this eventually led to both runs scoring as a botched double play and a double off Dylan Lee brought the runners home. Those things aside, Strider had a 7/2 K/BB ratio (7/1 the first two times through the order) and faced just two batters over the minimum (the homer and a walk) in his first four innings of work. He busted out a changeup against Arizona’s numerous lefties in lieu of his slider, and it wasn’t a great changeup, but it did the job when paired with his mighty fastball.
The Rockies will counter Strider with Kyle Freeland. The 29-year-old lefty has had a season somewhat similar to teammate Austin Gomber, whom the Braves bombed on Thursday night, so perhaps they’ll be able to do the same against Freeland. In essence, Freeland has fine-ish peripherals — a 99 FIP- and a 110 xFIP-. But, he’s given up harder contact than those numbers suggest (think like a 121 xERA- or similar, though that’s not adjusted for park and it should be). At this point, Freeland has a five-pitch mix and essentially relies on setting up his curveball by leveraging decent command and his ability to be unpredictable. None of his pitch shapes are particularly great — the slider/cutter is fine and the fastballs all sink too much while the changeup doesn’t sink enough; the curveball doesn’t have a great shape but tends to fool hitters anyway.
Freeland’s season has been a very mixed bag this year from start to start. He has five with an ERA of 3.60 or less, and four with ERAs of nearly 8.00 or higher. On an FIP basis, three of his ten starts have featured FIPs of nearly 7.00 or more, with xFIPs of of 5.50 or higher. One of those bad starts was his most recent against the Nationals, but he had two fine-to-good outings before that. Four starts ago, though, he was rocked by the Royals, though he had a stretch of three quite-good starts before then. You get the idea.
Note that this game is a 9:10 pm ET start, after two consecutive night games that started half an hour before that.
Saturday, June 4, 2022
9:10 pm EDT
Coors Field, Denver, CO
TV: Bally Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan
XM Radio: Online / Ch. 89