Kevin Gausman and Kyle Freeland grew up in the Denver area, not far from each other. Their high schools, in fact, are about a dozen miles apart.
A decade after both of them threw their last prep pitches, the two Colorado products will face off against each other at baseball’s highest level.
Gausman’s San Francisco Giants (87-50), fresh off 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night, open a three-game series at the Colorado Rockies (63-74) on Monday afternoon in Denver. San Francisco sits in first place in the National League West with less than a month left in the season.
The Rockies are coming off a split of a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves and have a little advantage heading into Monday’s contest. They played a matinee game against Atlanta on Sunday while the Giants played a late afternoon game and had to fly to Denver.
It didn’t seem likely that Freeland (5-6, 4.22 ERA) would make this start after he prematurely left his most recent outing Wednesday against the Texas Rangers. He was removed after allowing one run in one-plus inning of work due to a left hip impingement, but it turned out to not be as bad as feared.
“He noticed warming up that he really couldn’t push off the rubber and drive down the mound,” manager Bud Black said after the game at Texas. “He thought it might progressively get better as he got into his warmups and when he got into the game with some game adrenaline, but it never happened.”
Freeland got progressively better throughout the weekend and will make his second start of the season against San Francisco. He beat the Giants on the road on Aug. 14 after allowing one run on five hits in six innings.
Freeland is 7-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 16 career starts against them, including going 5-1 with a 3.99 ERA in nine starts at Coors Field.
Gausman (12-5, 2.52) grew up watching games at Coors Field and is not bothered by the higher altitude.
He spent the first part of his career pitching in the American League so he has not faced the Rockies many times. Overall he is 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA in four career starts, with half of those coming in Denver.
San Francisco is making just its second visit to Colorado this season, with another one slated for later this month. The Rockies won two of the three games played at Coors Field in May but the Giants were just five games over .500 at the time. Now they’re vying for the NL West crown and have the best record in baseball after missing the playoffs for the last four seasons.
Gausman adds some stability to a rotation that has suffered some hits. Alex Woods tested positive for COVID-19 and a shortage of starters led to a bullpen game Saturday night. Manager Gabe Kapler doesn’t sound worried.
“I feel like we have a healthy starting rotation and that’s pretty important right now,” Kapler said. “I don’t think there’s many clubs that can say they have a healthy five-man rotation, and we do.”
–Field Level Media