Royals closer Greg Holland was shut down after warming up last night due to an oblique injury, tweets Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. That issue could seemingly render him unavailable for the remainder of the season.
Regardless of whether Holland gets into one of Kansas City’s final three games, it’s hard to paint his 2020 season as anything other than a resounding success. The 34-year-old pitched 28 1/3 frames out of manager Mike Matheny’s bullpen and plowed through opposing lineups with a 1.91 ERA, a 2.51 FIP, 9.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, just one home run allowed and a career-best 51.4 percent ground-ball rate.
Holland ramped up his slider usage to a career-high 50.7 percent this year, and his 93.3 mph average fastball was his best since 2017. The final stretch of games in 2020 proved particularly impressive, as Holland rattled off 13 1/3 shutout innings with just six hits and one walk while racking up 18 strikeouts. Certainly, ending on an injury — even a non-arm injury — isn’t an ideal way to finish out the season, but for a former star who returned to his original organization on a make-good minor league pact, the season could scarcely have gone much better.
This winter isn’t expected to be particularly kind to mid-tier free agents, but Holland should easily find himself a guaranteed deal this time around and could conceivably field multi-year offers. The Royals held onto him at the trade deadline and will surely have interest in re-signing the veteran, although they have some in-house options to step into the ninth inning should he find a more enticing deal elsewhere. Josh Staumont and Kyle Zimmer have both taken substantial steps forward in 2020, while fellow righty Scott Barlow’s secondary metrics look much more impressive than his pedestrian 4.45 ERA. Flanagan wrote earlier this week that if the Royals can’t lure Holland or Trevor Rosenthal, whom they traded to San Diego last month, back to the organization in the offseason, they’ll likely explore similar additions of bargain veterans with some upside.