When we were first introduced to Derek Holland, he was the next great Texas Rangers left-handed starter. We were told that the Texas Rangers would not consider a trade for Holland, and that he was an untouchable talent. His first season was a rough one in the majors, but we were told to hold on, it will get better. Derek Holland was 8-12 with a 6.13 ERA in 21 starts (33 games total) in 2009. He did get better, and in 2011 we saw all that talent come to fruition with his best major league season to date. Derek Holland was 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 32 starts, and he almost pitched a complete game shutout against the Cardinals in the World Series that same season. Derek was ready to be that power left-handed pitcher that the Texas Rangers were hoping he could be.
Derek had a stomach bug issue in 2012 that caused him to lose a bunch of weight and his ERA ballooned up to 4.67 in 27 starts, but he still won 12 games. Meanwhile, young left-handed pitching prospect Martin Perez was making his major league debut. Perez went 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA in 6 starts (12 games total), but all the Texas Rangers were doing was giving the very young pitcher a taste of the bigs. Derek, now a high paid veteran, was no longer the young left-handed prospect, Martin Perez now was.
In 2013, Derek put together a very good season, going 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts, but Martin Perez was more impressive. Perez, then 22 years old, went 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA in just 20 starts. Martin Perez even got the privilege of pitching game 163 for the Texas Rangers in 2013. The Texas Rangers lost that game, but they had enough faith in Perez to give him the ball.
Derek Holland then tripped over his dog and required knee surgery, and no one knows how he is going to come back from that injury. Knees are kind of important when it comes to pitching, or so I have noticed in my years of watching baseball. While Derek Holland is out, Martin Perez has stepped into Derek’s spot in the Texas Rangers rotation; the second slot, and he has been very good so far in 2014. Although his ERA is 4.50, Jason Frasor let two of those runs cross in Perez’s last start, although Perez put them on. He has struck out 10 in 12 innings, and he has induced a ton of ground ball double plays, including 5 in just over six innings in his last start, which is his game.
“I’m not a power pitcher. I’m a groundball pitcher,” Perez told reporters after picking up his first win of the season following a no-decision in his season debut. “When you throw good pitches down in the zone, that’s what happens.” NBCDFW
I am not saying that Derek Holland is done as a great pitcher, but I am saying that he has been replaced as the young prospect that we were all looking forward to seeing what he will become. Derek has become a good major league pitcher, but I have a feeling that Martin Perez has the chance to be an amazing big league pitcher, and we are only scratching the surface of this young man’s talent.