Tonight our Royals face off against Derek Holland. The 24 year old lefty is considered one of baseball's most exciting young pitchers and with his impressive strikeout numbers, he certainly looks the part.
Thus far, Holland's ERA is in the mid 3.00s, which more or less jives with his FIP of 3.81 and his xFIP of 3.55. The curious thing is that tRA hates Holland this season. Holland's number in that metric is a bloated 5.11, good for a tRA+ of just 85. I like looking at tRA because it is park and defense adjusted, while looking at everything that happens to a pitcher during his performance, with less emphasis placed on sequence. (Full explanation here.) All I can guess is that the disparity between Holland's FIP and his tRA is that he's been lucky/good at spacing out his hits allowed, walks and everything else. Holland has been good at stranding runners, true, but that would be expected from a high strikeout pitcher.
Although the Royals have hit lefties well this season (to the tune of a .295/.367/.466 line) it might be too much to expect many runs against Holland. The young Ranger is striking out 19% of the hitters he's faced in 2011, which is in line with his 21% figure from his time as a starter in 2010. By comparison, the average for MLB starters is 16%. He gets a high number of swinging strikes and 15.5% of all plate appearances under Holland end with a swinging strikeout. In 2010 Holland's walk rate was a little high, but in this young season he's above average (in the good sense).
Notwithstanding that strange tRA, it looks like the Royals will have a tough matchup on their hands tonight in Arlington. We might be looking at another hard-luck defeat for Jeff Francis.