Kiszla: What the Rockies can learn from Kyle Freeland to turn their October pain into playoff success

You possibly can’t win the World Collection in spring coaching. However it doesn’t stop Rockies star Nolan Arenado from making an attempt.

Before stepping within the batting cage on a chilly Arizona morning, Arenado announced: “One swing. Backside of the ninth. Score tied.”

Arenado dug in the batter’s field, slowly exhaled and waited for a pitch delivered with no one except Colorado teammates standing around the cage. It was a nasty strike, painting the black, low and out of doors. Relatively than swinging from his heels, Arenado calmly reached out, obtained the barrel on the ball and knocked it solidly if unspectacularly into the other-subject gap.

“He went down and away on me, so I took the pitch to right area,” Arenado stated. “I used to be comfortable, as a result of in a recreation I often roll that pitch over.”

Whereas an all-star résumé is built on towering house runs and jaw-dropping net gems, a hero within the playoffs is the hitter that does whatever little thing it takes to get an important run throughout residence plate.

By way of all the same drills repeated in every major-league staff’s preseason camp, what are the Rockies are working on in 2019? Erasing the ache.

For the first time in franchise historical past, Colorado knows what it’s wish to qualify for the playoffs in two consecutive seasons. “We’re beginning to get good at having the expertise of Recreation No. 163,” common manager Jeff Bridich stated.

However, because the Rockies have discovered the arduous method, the one issues extra intense than the strain and excitement of October baseball are the agony and remorse felt when a staff flops, as Colorado did final yr.

The goals of profitable a championship have been gone in a blink of an eye fixed: Seven days in October, 50 innings of baseball in three time zones, a meager six runs scored, with the enjoyment of a stirring do-or-die victory in Wrigley Area sandwiched between a troublesome loss in Los Angeles and the embarrassment of getting spanked by the Brewers’ broom of their National League divisional collection.

“The battle you’re continuously preventing within the postseason is to discover a strategy to keep affected person when every at-bat counts really does rely and all the significance is heightened,” stated Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who drove in a strong 107 runs from late March by way of the final day of September, but produced solely a single RBI as Colorado’s offense fizzled when the games mattered most.

What the Rockies have discovered is October baseball could be as a lot about grittiness and heart price as spin fee or exit velocity. What Colorado has discovered in the course of the previous two years is Jon Gray may need higher stuff in his pitching arsenal than Kyle Freeland, however Freeland has all the suitable stuff in his coronary heart to face tall on the mound and stare down hassle, as the noise from 40,151 followers in Wrigley Area punches a hole in the sky.

“The playoffs are something you need to go through to know what the intensity is like. There’s no different solution to emulate it or duplicate it,” stated Freeland, who refused to give up a single run while pitching 6…

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