Okay, imagine this situation: you’re a 22-year-old kid from Ohio, recently called up from the minor leagues by the Texas Rangers to pitch out of the bullpen. You join the big club, sit out there for a couple days, wait patiently for the call…and when it comes, it’s just about the most pressure imaginable: bases loaded, two outs, down 6-3, and you’re in charge of stopping the bleeding.
That’s what it’s like to be Derek Holland. The Rangers’ rookie made his debut in just that situation on Wednesday and performed admirably. After entering in the bottom of the sixth and allowing an infield single to Adam Lind that made the score 7-3, Toronto, Holland settled down, retiring Scott Rolen on a popup to end the threat with minimal damage. He went on to pitch two more scoreless innings, allowing two more hits (including another single to Lind) and giving Texas the chance to claw back and tie things up with a run in the eighth and three in the ninth.
Holland is expected to start for the pitching-poor Rangers at some point in the not-too-distant future.
“One of the last draft-and-follows signed before MLB changed their signing rules, Holland has always been blessed with exceptional command. What really excited scouts was the upticks in his velocity with each season. He was 89-91 in his season in JUCO, 90-92 in his professional debut in short-season Spokane and then up to 93-98 mid-summer last season, with movement. Holland pitched at three different levels, playing mostly in High-A last year and reached AA before season’s end. In just 221.2 minor league innings, Holland racked up 245 punch-outs to just 64 walks before being called up to the Show. While he’s starting his career as a reliever, there’s no question the long-term plan is starting for Holland.”
I seem to remember reading the other day that the Rangers plan to make this a permanent promotion. Hopefully he can successfully navigate the hitters paradise that is Arlington and make that a reality.