Kansas City Royals closer Greg Holland has struggled all season. With a 4.04 ERA, and four blown saves in 30 chances, he’s simply not performing up to the standard that earned him the Mariano Rivera Award as the American League’s best reliever in 2014.
However, the good news for the KC Royals is that Greg Holland’s fastball is back.
Early this season, Holland’s fastball averaged around 92 and 93 miles per hour in most games. Through June and July, Greg Holland’s velocity gradually climbed until he was averaging just under 94 miles per hour. In five August appearances, Holland’s fastball is lighting up the radar gun at 95.4 miles per hour, which is much closer to last year’s 95.7 miles per hour.
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Not only is Greg Holland’s velocity up, he’s striking out hitters again. In August, Holland is whiffing 15.75 batters per nine innings (K/9). The August surge has pushed Holland’s K/9 over 10 (10.60) for the first time this season.
Though his ERA is an awful 11.25, most of that came in one poor outing against the Angels on Thursday, in which he gave up four earned runs without recording an out.
To make matters even more bizarre, Holland bracketed that meltdown with two outings in which he struck out the side, including Friday’s game in which he notched his 26th save for the Kansas City Royals in the 2015 season.
All of this leaves me in sort of an odd position. Despite Greg Holland’s ERA at a season high, and bad results in his last few outings, I’m less worried about Holland than at any time this season. His Thursday gaffe is only the second time this year that the KC Royals ended up losing a game in which they held a lead after seven innings.
To put this in perspective, the Kansas City Royals had gone 111 games without blowing a lead after seven innings. That’s the second most in major-league history to the 1998-99 New York Yankees, who had Mariano Rivera in his prime. Blowing two late leads in a row might not be so much a cause for concern, as it is the Baseball Gods reminding the KC Royals bullpen that they’re mortal.
So, Kansas City Royals fans, I wouldn’t be TOO concerned about Greg Holland. As I said earlier, I feel better about him than at any time this season.
Now, if Holland continues to blow leads and give up runs, despite striking out hitters and a fastball averaging over 95 miles per hour, I’ll have to revise my opinion. But, as of today, I’ll simply dismiss that Thursday meltdown as “weird stuff happens in baseball.”