Derek Holland Capsizes Mariners, Felix Hernandez


On a long night of baseball in Seattle,

Derek Holland

out-dueled Mariner-ace

Felix Hernandez

, and the Rangers took game 2 of the 3-game weekend series, 5-2.

As for the scoring, Jurickson Profar opened matters with an RBI single to right-field, which came on what appeared to be a pretty filthy secondary offering from King Felix. Then, later on in the inning, David Murphy roped a clutch two-out, two-run double into the right-field corner. The Ranger pitching made those 3 runs stand up to notch the win.

Derek Holland stretched 120 pitches over 6.2 innings on the rubber, allowing 2 unearned runs on 4 hits, walking 3 and striking out a season-high 10 batters. Had it not been for an untimely Elvis Andrus error in the bottom of the 3rd inning — which eventually led to a Kendrys Morales two-run double — then Holland’s final line might have looked a little more sparkly, but as it stands he picked up the victory and looked quite impressive at various points during the process.

Looking over Derek’s numbers through 10 starts, I’ve noticed some developing trends. If you’ve watched him pitch this year, it’s fairly evident this is as sharp as he’s even been. The numbers certainly reflect it as well, as his current 2.97 ERA is nearly a full run lower than his breakout 2011 campaign (3.95) that made a 16 game winner out of him.

However, for every successful effect there must be a cause, and it’s clear in 2013 that Derek Holland is a different pitcher. Here is a list of his 4 primary pitches (Fastball, Slider, Curveball, Change up), and how often he has utilized them over the past 3 years:

  • Fastball — 2011: 66.1%, 2012: 68.5%, 2013: 57.0%
  • Slider — 2011: 13.0%, 2012: 11.3%, 2013: 25.9%
  • Curveball — 2011: 11.1%, 2012: 14.5%, 2013: 4.9%
  • Change up — 2011: 9.8%, 2012: 5.7%, 2013: 12.3%

Observing the data, it shows that Derek has turned from a lefty relying on his fastball into a more balanced craftsman using his entire assortment of offerings. Pay particularly close attention to how he’s essentially dumped his curveball as his #1 secondary pitch in favor of his slider, which was once considered to be his least effective pitch.

In the dog-eat-dog world of professional sports, the means are less important than the end results, and this year Holland’s results have done more talking than Derek has through the media. Again, that’s probably a career-first.

With all my lame attempts at making jokes put aside, it’s impossible to deny Derek Holland’s progression, improvement, results — or whatever you wish to call them. Across the board he’s been better in 2013 than in any other season to date, which includes the highest opponent’s swing rate (48.3%) and lowest contact rate (61.8%) of his career, as well as inducing his career-best swing-and-miss rate (10.3%).

You might consider this information a tad exasperating to comb through, but there’s only one thesis to keep in mind: Derek Holland has turned into a solid pitcher, and unlike his fluke-ish 2011, this season his peripherals have the potential to stand up without any luck added to his palate.