I feel as bad saying it as you probably feel reading it, but Greg Holland should no longer be closing for the Kansas City Royals.
Look, I love Holland.
He has been an immeasurably important piece of an outstanding bullpen for a few years now, and his contributions to last year’s success will be forever remembered fondly. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t think this is the same Greg Holland.
With the occasional exception, this Greg Holland seems busted and ineffective, an actual liability in an otherwise solid pen. Oh, he still has his flashes—he’s hit 95 on the radar gun in his past two appearances, with some solid movement on his fastball—but his dominance, it would appear, might be gone.
I don’t know if it’s a lingering injury they’re unwilling to admit, if something in his mechanics went awry, or if he just flat-out lost the ability to command his pitches the way he used to, but something doesn’t seem right.
Sometimes, people just lose it. And while such declination is usually reserved for pitchers OVER the age of 29, it’s not unheard of.
My fear is that he’s just toast. (Although I’m totally willing to accept that this could be a lingering arm issue. He spent time on the DL with a bicep problem, and sat for a spell last week because his arm was “cranky,” whatever the hell that means.)
Regardless of reason, this season has all of the markings of a substantial breakdown. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 2.04, compared to 4.5 (2014) and 5.72 (2013). His WHIP—walks, plus hits per inning—is a robust 1.425, which is up from 0.914 last year and 0.866 the year before. And finally, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, which basically calculates a pitcher’s effectiveness minus defense) is 3.14, which isn’t terrible, exactly, but it’s not great, either. (For comparison’s sake, it was 1.83 last year, and 1.36 the year before.)
So this whole year has been subpar for sure, but the descent has REALLY manifested since the All Star Break. In the 15 games he’s pitched since should-be-closer Wade Davis dazzled in Cincinnati, opponents are hitting .339 off of Holland, and he’s sporting a 6.08 ERA. His average velocity is down and he’s not locating his pitches. He throws strikes, but those strikes are getting crushed.
And that crow just won’t caw, which I think is a real expression.
Therefore, you’ve gotta make a move to solidify the bullpen before October. Davis needs to be closing, Kelvin Herrera needs to the eighth inning guy, and the seventh can belong to some rotation of Holland, Franklin Morales and Ryan Madson. (Provided nothing is wrong with Madson, which, well…)
Because if they don’t, and Holland can’t right his ship (which may not even be “rightable,” I’m afraid), he is going to cost this team games when it matters the most.
And for a team with so much promise, that would be a damn shame.