A little late, but it’s here. Wednesday at Surprise Stadium, the Texas Rangers went up against the Oakland Athletics. What many may have believed would have been a loss for the Rangers, were they ever wrong. The Rangers came out on top with a 9-2 win over Oakland…but that wasn’t necessarily the highlight of the Cactus League game. What was?
Find out after the jump….
Well, it was the three scoreless innings that BOTH Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz pitched. Right-handed Feliz, who pitched relief for the final three innings of Wednesday’s game for the first time this Spring, has been working with pitching coach Mike Maddux on his pitches and that was very recognizable Wednesday especially when he threw a slider that was much harder and sharper than the ones he has thrown in the past. The AL Rookie of the Year struck out four batters, walked two and only allowed a single hit in his three scoreless innings of 53 pitches, 30 of which were strikes.
Left-handed Holland started Wednesday’s game against the Athletics and also struck out a total of four batters while not walking a single one and he allowed just two hits in his three scoreless innings of 37 pitches.Holland says, “The way I see it, I’m trying to make the rotation. I need to make a couple of statements and today was one of them.”
Holland does not have an earned spot in the rotation yet but he is giving it his best spot. Right now, the only secured spots is for C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. Holland wants to earn one of those remaining three spots in the starting rotation and you sure as hell can tell it. He is working as hard as he has ever worked before and plans to continue doing just that until the end of Spring Training – he is a man on a mission! The pitcher has something to prove this Spring.
Holland on his pitching:
“I felt really good. I had all my pitches working and had great command. … Everything is starting to click.”
That’s all safe to say since he threw a total of 37 pitches and 30 of those pitches were strikes. Holland is known more for his slider and his fastball than anything else, but he worked in a pretty good changeup, which used to be his best pitch, in Wednesday’s game. He is determined to bring back his changeup and maintain it. So, what did the pitching coach and manager have to say about Holland’s pitching?
Pitching Coach Mike Maddux: “He had a good plan and the firepower to back it up.”
Manager Ron Washington: “Pretty sharp. He moved the fastball around, dropped in some sliders and changeups, threw all his pitches for strikes, worked fast and down in the zone. … Very impressive.”
Regarding the starting rotation, Feliz is still being stretched out, but is probably going to close for the Rangers when the time comes. Holland, on the other hand, is in very good contention for a starting role; however, he does have completion. Tommy Hunter more than likely has one of those three final spots and Matt Harrison has been very impressive this Spring. Michael Kirkman, Alexi Ogando as well as David Bush are all competing for a starting rotation spot. Brandon Webb may be part of the mix at some point in time, but not now.
I’ll leave you with this statement from Holland:
“I’m definitely here to show I belong in the rotation,” Holland said. “I don’t want anything else. I want to show I belong in the rotation.”
Do you think Holland has what it takes to be a starting pitcher for the Rangers? If not, who do you think the spots should go to? Share your thoughts below!