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Reevaluating Greg Holland's role in the bullpen

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It might be time for a new closer.

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Two reactionary articles after back-to-back blown games from me now, but there's no better time to evaluate what you are doing once you've failed. What's the definition of insanity?

Last night Greg Holland wasn't very good. We used to never see anything less than really good Holland. This year however we've seen merely okay Holland. I like to think I've got a pretty good beat on Royals Twitter. I follow all the popular people and some of them follow me back. I try to hop into good discussions about the Royals when I see one. Twitter was created for interactions (I think) and I like people (mostly). However there was one discussion last night that threw me off.

How has the situation not changed? A lot of folks were saying Holland just had a bad outing or that he's still just as effective.

Season K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP
2013 13.84 2.42 0.4 0.282 87.40% 39.40% 6.80% 1.21 1.36 1.68
2014 12.99 2.89 0.43 0.268 83.30% 48.10% 6.70% 1.44 1.83 2.1
2015 10.13 5.45 0.52 0.318 72.60% 50.60% 8.30% 4.15 3.42 3.65

That doesn't seem like the same effective Holland to me. Walk rate is up drastically, strikeouts are down almost as much and his LOB% has regressed to the magical 72%. That's bad enough for a reliever but he's also allowing almost four times as many runs to score, and his FIP/xFIP have spiked as well.

And this wasn't solely just because of one bad outing last night (which regardless...still matters unless you are a Jeremy Guthrie apologist).

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP
Pre-8/13 10.13 4.93 0.52 0.286 78.20% 52.40% 8.30% 3.12 3.25 3.48
Post-8/13 10.13 5.45 0.52 0.318 72.60% 50.60% 8.30% 4.15 3.42 3.65

Sure when you give up 6 runs without getting a single out your ERA is going to spike up, but the better indicators of pitcher talent didn't move as much and remain trending in the wrong way.

It's pretty clear this isn't the same Holland. Something is wrong, but that's an article for another day and it's maybe an unclear solution immediately. What is clear though is that Holland needs to be given lower leverage situations going forward.

There is no such thing as a closer. I'm not alone in this idea, and many of us on this site believe that the best reliever should be brought upon in the highest leverage situation. It just so happens that as a game progresses the leverage index generally rises. Sometimes in the ninth it's the highest, but it can also be just as high or higher in the eighth (as it was on Wednesday).

What's also clear at this point is that Wade Davis is the best reliever the Royals have, and it's not really close.

Name K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR
Wade Davis 10.22 2.51 0.19 0.227 90.40% 42.20% 2.50% 0.96 1.94 2.88 1.5
Kelvin Herrera 8.06 3.16 0.53 0.228 82.00% 45.30% 7.10% 2.10 3.18 3.58 0.5
Greg Holland 10.13 5.45 0.52 0.318 72.60% 50.60% 8.30% 4.15 3.42 3.65 0.5

Davis is better in every metric across the board basically and I think an argument could be made that Herrera is better than Holland right now. That's what it's always about with relievers given their volatility: what have you done for me lately?

The modern day manager though (not just Ned Yost) is so confined to his bullpen roles that they won't make a change, but it's time for Wade Davis to pitch in the highest leverage situations, or pitch in the ninth, or be the closer, or whatever the hell it means to Ned Yost. Whatever role Yost has for Holland in his mind, Wade Davis needs to be the new owner of it.