KC Royals closer Greg Holland is having what is, for him, a sub-par season. With a 3.08 ERA and three blown saves in 26 chances, Holland looks like a mortal version of the pitcher that has dominated the 9th inning for the last few seasons.
He’s still pretty good.
Even so, at age 29, Greg Holland hasn’t been quite the same guy that won the Mariano Rivera award as the best reliever in the American League last season for the Kansas City Royals. In particular, his fastball velocity is down a full two miles per hour from 2014 (93.7 mph in 2015, down from 95.7 mph in 2014). The loss in velocity has seen Holland’s strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) drop under 10 for the first time in his career (9.6).
The drop is part of a larger, disturbing trend which has seen both his velocity and his strikeout rate drop in tandem over the last three seasons with the KC Royals:
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[Note: Data For Table Courtesy Of Fangraphs.com]
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that Holland’s velocity has ticked up a bit in July. If we look at just his July appearances, Greg Holland’s fastball averages 94.3 mph, which is a whole lot better than the 92 and 93 mph single game averages his was putting up in April and May.
Holland’s strikeout rate (K%) is also trending up. After a pretty anemic 23.1% in April and an even worse 18.8% in May, he’s missing more bats with 34.3% in June and 27.5% in July. While Greg Holland’s July results (3.86 ERA) haven’t matched his bump in velocity, his renewed arm life gives some hope that he might recapture a bit of his old self for the stretch run.
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Dominance now is less important than in October, especially when you consider that Fangraphs.com estimates the Kansas City Royals playoff chances at 98.6% and their odds to win the Central at 96.7%. It would be arrogant to dismiss the possibility that the Twins could run down the KC Royals, but I think us fans can reasonably expect to see them playing in the post-season.
The Kansas City Royals are going to need their HDH trio operating at peak performance if they want to bring home the World Series victory that eluded them in 2014. Certainly, KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore hasn’t left any bullets in the gun after adding Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist just before the trading deadline.
Moore seems to operating by the logic that the Kansas City Royals aren’t going to get a better chance to bring home the trophy than this season.
Let’s just hope it all works out.