Diamondbacks reliever Greg Holland’s hold on the club’s closer role appears to be tenuous after a second-straight blown save. As Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes, skipper Torey Lovullo declined last night to confirm that the veteran hurler will keep the job moving forward.
To his credit, Lovullo wasn’t willing to make a rash decision in the immediate aftermath of another late-inning collapse. “I’m in an emotional state right now,” he said. “I want to probably think through it with a clear head.”
At the same time, the skipper acknowledge that he’s “concerned” with his veteran closer. That stands in contrast to Lovullo’s words after Holland’s hard-to-watch meltdown the night prior, when he nearly shut the door on the rival Dodgers before summoning a cavalcade around the bases with a series of free passes.
As Piecoro documents, Holland’s steady start to the year has given way to increasingly shaky performances. He has blown three of his last five save opportunities. Since a scoreless appearance against the Los Angeles club on June 5th, Holland’s earned run average has shot up from 1.31 to 3.21. Worse, he has managed just five strikeouts against seven walks in that 7 1/3-inning span.
It’s not entirely surprising that Holland has failed to sustain the early success. He’s no longer a dominating pitcher: his arm speed continues to trail off (career-low 92.2 average fastball, 84.8 mph slider) and his swinging-strike rate has fallen to levels (12.3%) not seen since his debut campaign. Free passes continue to be an issue, with Holland dishing out 5.2 per nine since the start of the 2015 season.
That said, there was (and perhaps still is) hope that Holland would be a key piece for the Snakes the rest of the way. Statcast suggests that he has been legitimately excellent at limiting hard contact, crediting him with a .253 xwOBA-against that is actually a shade better than his .256 wOBA-against.
No matter the course the team takes, Holland is an important player to the organization. Should the club elect to hang in there and continue fighting, despite a yawning divisional deficit and tough Wild Card competition, then it’ll need to take more than its fair share of tight contests. If it decides instead to cash in some chips at the deadline, Holland would be the team’s most obvious rental piece to sell. The difficulties, then, come at an awkward time for Arizona. At the moment, Holland is neither helping the team keep pace nor boosting his own trade value.
While it’d be silly to overplay the notion of the proven closer, contending teams still value late-inning experience and steadiness (and not all that infrequently will give up notable prospects in search of certainty in the 9th). Now, it’s increasingly hard to imagine the Arizona franchise successfully marketing Holland as a reliable veteran who could handle closing duties down the stretch.
Holland is guaranteed only $3.25MM on the year and needs not feature as a closer to have trade appeal. But that’s where his greatest potential value lies to the team. Odds are, he’ll be given a shot to regain his standing over the next several weeks even if he’s removed temporarily from the role.
There are also some direct financial considerations worthy of note. With thirty appearances and twenty games finished, Holland is also already in the meat of his contract’s incentive package. He has already picked up $300K in extra earnings. He can earn $100K upon reaching 35, 40, 45, and 50 appearances, with $200K apiece if he logs a 55th and 60th. And there’s $150K promised for finishing games number 25, 30, 35, and 40, with even bigger numbers thereafter ($300K at 45 and 50, $600K for 55 and 60).
okay, but who’s the alternative?
hard to say if they will given he is a rookie
Much safer bet right now over the rest of the awful bullpen. Plus, he’s not eligible for arbitration until 2022.
Cody’s ball just landed
Lopez was a over eccentric last week at home when he struck out Pederson.. Did you see Cody give it back to him and the DBacks dugout after he hit it out last night? Classic.
He and Kenley Jansen are both hard to watch these days.
And they have to pay him for 2 more years!
And I have both on my fantasy team!
In 2017, I took Mark Melancon with my 4th (I believe) overall pick thinking I was guaranteed 40 saves on a pretty good Giants team. Man, was I wrong.
You took a closer in the 4th round? I always say punt saves and get the best relievers you can that aren’t the clear cut closer. They change so much through the year it’s easy to find saves and the early rounds are better for other positions.
4th overall? Ouch
You drafted Mark Melancon in the 4th round!?!? Man I wish you were in my fantasy baseball league.
4th round would be acceptable. The writer noted it was the 4th overall pick (first round). Closer contracts are almost always bad in the end.
I meant 4th round, pardon my error, lol.
Unfortunately i agree but Jansen is better with a lead which is strange
Yep, try Yoan Lopez. Just try it out. I know these two blown saves seem worse because they were against the Dodgers, but you know what? They actually ARE worse when they’re against the Dodgers. You outplay the best team in MLB and a division rival for 25-26 outs, then lose. And Holland just didn’t look like he had any command out there.
I would let chaffin in. Dodgers couldn’t touch him. Every teams bullpen seems to be a mess. No one can count on anyone night in and night out.
Being an effective reliever in the majors is a mixed blessing. If you’re really good you’ll be overused which not only burns you out, it overexposes you. We see this constantly. Managers ride those horses until they drop.
Just about every bullpen move Hazen made in his first season worked. Since then, pretty much every move he’s made with the bullpen has blown up spectacularly in his face. Constructing an inexpensive and effective bullpen at first appeared to be one of his few player personnel related strengths. Now it appears he has virtually no demonstrable player personnel related strengths.
Only two in a row?? He’d be the lead man in the Mets bullpen.
I was at that game and I would say the round about 45,000 Dodger fans in attendance would beg to differ on Holland’s performance being hard to watch. I saw a pitcher who was being too careful, trying nibble, not trusting his own pitches. This is something you’d expect from a rookie, not a veteran pitcher like Holland. As that inning wore on, it seemed to become as much as anything else a crisis of confidence, and that’s much harder to cure than mechanical issues. That game clearly got into his head. Clearing it out won’t be easy.
And credit the Dodgers hitters some here too. They read what Holland was doing and didn’t get greedy.
Anyone can beat the Dodgers. They are the most overrated team in baseball (next to the Yankees). Even Toledo Mudcats can beat the dodgers.
It would be a neat trick for the “Toledo Mudcats” to beat anyone since they don’t exist. You accidentally combined two different minor league teams into one: Toledo has the Mud Hens, while it’s the Carolina Mudcats.
The most overrated team in baseball with the most wins in baseball. Nice
Please don’t feed the trolls.
Decreased velocity…excessive walks…drastic dip in production…not “trusting his stuff”…
Especially since he’s already been on Team Tommy John once, who wants odds he gets a third UCL within the next 12 months?
Lovello has no blame in this? Ehen Holland walked 4 straight, he should have been pulled after 2 or 3 MAX. Then the next guy walked another, so yea, blame Holland but also blame McFarland who walked in the winning run and Lovello for allowing Holland to walk 4 in a row.
They need to make a trades for a couple bullpen arms and a starter