Kansas City Royals: 3 underrated trades to improve rotation
By Ryan Sikes
1. Kyle Freeland
Selected as the eighth overall pick in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft, Kyle Freeland would be an immediate improvement for the Kansas City Royals rotation. He posted a 17-7 record and 2.85 ERA in 2018 but took a massive step backward this year. The 26-year old went 3-11 with a 6.73 ERA in 22 starts for the Rockies.
He got off to a horrific start and was demoted to Triple-A in late May. So why the heck would the Royals want him? Well, a closer look at his numbers reveals that Coors Field was not kind to him, as is the case with most starting pitchers. Freeland had a 9.25 ERA in 10 home starts versus a 4.61 ERA in 12 road starts.
Freeland has a terrific slider and curveball and was able to get a 28.0 and 35.4 whiff rate on these pitches, respectively. That being said, opposing batters hit 0.381 off his curveball this season which tells me that they were catching far too much of the strike zone.
Looking back to his 2018 season, Freeland has increased the spin rate on every single one of his pitches but it looked like he was still trying to develop the command of his pitches. Combined with the nature of Coors Field, being sent down and being recalled, and dealing with a left groin strain, it was not a good season for Freeland which might be more of a reason for the Rockies to be willing to part with him.
Away from Coors Field, he was able to produce an opponent slash line of 0.259/0.328/0.442 and a 7.62 K/9 (5.85 at home). His 0.287 road BABIP was under the league average and I am inclined to believe that he would return to normalized statistics if the Royals were to make a move for him. Freeland is under team control through the 2022 season so this trade would make a lot of sense.