With Kyle Freeland starting against the Dodgers at Coors Field on Friday afternoon the Rockies will have starting pitchers make their big-league debuts in back-to-back games for the first time. Antonio Senzatela started and worked five shutout innings in Thursday’s 2-1 victory at Milwaukee.
Freeland is one of four home-grown members of the Rockies rotation, joining Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson and Senzatela. The exception is Tyler Chatwood, a second-round draft of the Angels in 2008 who was acquired for catcher Chris Iannetta on Nov. 30, 2011.
Freeland was a first-round draft pick in 2014, the eighth player selected overall. Gray was the third player selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, and Anderson was the 20th selection in the first round in 2011. Senzatela was an undrafted international free agent signed out of Venezuela in July of 2011.
Freeland becomes the second rookie to start a home opener, joining Tyler Matzek, who worked four innings, giving up one run, in a 5-1 victory against the Cubs in 2015.
WITH FREELAND starting Friday and Senzatela on Thursday, the Rockies are the third team since the start of divisional play in 1969 to have two starting pitchers under the age of 24 make their major-league debut in the first five games of the season, according to Stats Inc.
The 1998 Marlins started Rafael Medina and Brian Meadows, and the 2009 A’s started Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson.
THE ROCKIES will be playing their 25th home opener, the 23rd at Coors Field. They are 14-10 all-time in home openers, 13-9 at Coors Field, where they have won three of the last four home openers.
The Dodgers are the opposition for the first time.
The Diamondbacks have been the most frequent opponent at a home opener, appearing seven times. The Rockies home opener record against opponents: Diamondbacks (4-3), Padres (3-2), Reds (2-0), Phillies (1-1), Cubs (1-1), Cardinals (1-1), Expos (1-0), Mets (1-0), Astros (0-1) and Giants (0-1).
The Mets were the opposition in the first game ever at Coors Field. The Rockies won 11-9 in 14 innings on April 26, 1995 on Dante Bichette’s three-run home run in the bottom of the 14th. The Rockies have played two other extra-inning games in home openers, losing to the Padres 8-5 in 11 innings in 1999, and beating the Diamondbacks 3-2 in 11 innings in 2006.
MIKE DUNN has made a quick impact in his role as a late-inning lefthander out of the bullpen. He appeared in all three victories at Milwaukee, striking out six of the 10 batters he faced in 3 1/3 innings, giving up two walks and one hit.
Greg Holland, the other free-agent reliever added in the off-season, earned the save in all three victories, the first Rockies pitcher to have three saves in the first four games of a season.
HYUN-JIN RYU will start for the Dodgers, a bit of a surprise that he is opening the season as the No. 5 starter in light of problems he had this spring with groin and elbow injuries.
He is 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA lifetime against the Rockies, and won his only start at Coors Field, in 2014, allowing two runs in six innings. Charlie Blackmon is 5-for-10 lifetime against him with two doubles.
THE DODGERS have been a recent headache for the Rockies. The Dodgers are 36-21 against the Rockies since 2014, during which time the Dodgers are 142-90 against the NL West, the second best record in baseball in intra-divisional games the last three years, according to STATS, Inc.
The Nationals are a best-in-baseball 142-89 within its division the last three seasons, the NL East, tops in baseball. The Dodgers are second, ahead of the Cardinals (134-97 vs. NL Central) and Cubs (131-99 vs. NL Central). The Royals have the best intra-divisional record in the AL in the last three years (129-102 vs. AL Central).
THE DODGERS outscored the Padres by 17 runs in their opening series, the fourth-best run differential by the team through the first four games of a season since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. The Dodgers’ best run differential through five games during that span is +27 by the 1974 club, with the 1978 and 2016 teams tied for second at +18.