Greg Holland enters the 2015 firmly established as one of the best closers in the game. He has given up just 24 runs over the last two years, or fewer runs than Joe Mays gave up in six starts in his brief Royals career. Over that time he has struck out 193 hitters while walking just 38. How does he do it? With the nastiest slider in the game.
Holland may have scared some Royals fans when he lost a game in Tampa in extra innings in April, then blew a save in San Diego in early May. However, "Dirty South" was clutch down the stretch, giving up just three earned runs after the All-Star break for an ERA of 0.94 over those last 28 2/3 innings. That success carried over into the post-season, where he gave up just one run in eleven innings of playoff baseball. For the year, hitters hit just .170/.238/.234 against Holland, the fifth lowest OPS-against in baseball.
|Career per 162 games||2.19||2.06||12.5||3.2||2.5|
Holland's strikeout numbers dipped slightly in 2014, which isn't surprising since his 2013 strikeout numbers were near-historic. His walk numbers rose slightly too, but are still well below his 2012 numbers when he walked 4.5 hitters per nine innings. Holland has also had a very low BABIP the last two seasons, which perhaps accounts for why the projection models have his ERA rising this year.
Reliever performance can be volatile year-to-year, but Holland has become about as reliable as they get. The Royals have two more years of Holland before he is eligible for free agency, but he is already becoming one of the more expensive players on the roster. The Royals have a nice luxury in having three pitchers good enough to close, but there may be a point where they will have to deal from a point of strength to fill other needs and/or save money. Andy McCullough has suggested the Royals could look to deal Holland mid-season if they are far out of the race, so if you appreciate seeing one of the nastiest relievers in Royals history, your time could be limited.
What do you expect out of Greg Holland in 2015?