What’s Wrong With Derek Holland
Despite the fact Holland has been exceptional in ’13, he has been one of the main reasons Texas has played so poorly in September. In three starts, Holland has been abysmal, pitching only 13.1 innings while generating an 8.78 ERA, 8.67 FIP, and has only struck out 10.1% of the batters he has faced. While the sample is very small, Holland’s sudden downfall has been very perplexing, and has lead many of the Holland haters to say, “I told you so! That guys works too much on his impersonations dad gummit!” Well, maybe not quite in those words, but if one has ever read Rangers Facebook, one would assume the comments would be similar.
Since Holland’s Arnold Schwarzenegger impression has been much less affable than his recent pitching performances, I decided to do a little detective work and try to find what might be currently plaguing the Rangers southpaw.
I am one who absolutely despises selective endpoints, but the following example might be fairly relevant. On August 21st, Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro hit this rocket which deflected off of Holland and went into center field.
If one will pay close attention to Holland in these gifs from his most recent starts shortly after Mark Trumbo and Yoenis Cespedes destroyed these pitches, one will notice what appears to be a slight defensive mechanism by Holland preparing to be hit by the baseball.
Based on this evidence, Holland has used his hands to shield himself as a natural reaction long before being hit by Jason Castro. So, to those of you who feel Holland’s struggles stem from the fear of being hit again, I have proven your theory to be both silly and moronic. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
I then decided to take the logical, non-narrative route and investigate Holland’s pitching mechanics according to pitch f/x before and after the incident to find out if anything such as his movement, release point, or velocity has changed. Here are The Dutch Oven’s pitch f/x numbers before Castro plunked him.
Holland’s release points are located slightly different on the chart since the immediate start following the Houston game. However, the release point appears to still be pretty consistent, but he is still being shelled. His mechanical tweak could be because of injury or fatigue, but he has recently located many pitches poorly as the gifs above have shown. Holland has increased the use of his sinker, but right handed hitters are hitting .550 and slugging 1.100 against the pitch since August 23rd. Holland has only allowed two total hits off of his slider and change up, but has been throwing them less. Having a feel for a change up is especially crucial against opposite handed hitters to use to throw off their timing and induce whiffs.
The issue with Derek Holland appears to be something mechanical tweaks can fix, but the majority of his failure could simply be from a random distribution of events and regression. Even Vida Blue had a bad start or two in his tremendous 1971 season. However, the Rangers need Derek Holland to pitch much better his final few starts to help the team secure a wild card game appearance, and that begins tonight at 6:10 in Tampa. If Holland continues to pitch in this putrid manner, there is a good chance there will be no baseball after 162 in Arlington.