What is Doug Brocail’s most important job as new pitching coach?


New Texas Rangers pitching coach Doug Brocail has been on the job for approximately a week. That is not even long enough for him to get his family settled in North Texas or his office at Globe Life Park arranged but hopefully he’s already started working on what will be his No. 1 task, fixing Derek Holland.

After two seasons dominated by injury, Derek Holland no longer resembles the player who in 2013 threw 213 innings with a 3.42 ERA. 2014 saw Holland miss almost the entire season after tripping over his dog in the offseason and injuring his knee to the point that he required microfracture surgery that limited him to only six starts at the end of the year.

In September of 2014, Holland’s return was promising. In six starts he went 4-2 with a minuscule 1.46 ERA. Based on these results, expectations for Holland in 2015 were high.

But after leaving the Rangers’ 2015 home opener after just one inning of work due to left shoulder soreness, Holland would not pitch again until August 19th. His 2015 return was nowhere near as encouraging as was his 2014 September.

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In 10 starts, Holland was 4-3 with an alarming 4.91 ERA while giving up 11 homers. And then the bottom dropped out of Holland’s 2015 when he face the Toronto Blue Jays in game 4 of the American League Divisional Series.

Lasting only two innings and allowing 6 earned runs to the Blue Jays was a disastrous finish to Holland’s disappointing 2015. Admittedly, the lefty was a bad matchup against the powerful right-handed Toronto lineup but Holland has thrown some of the best games in Rangers’ post-season history and Texas expected Holland to compete, which he didn’t.

Holland has displayed a quirky personality throughout his career and often his lack of focus has been his biggest weakness. On numerous occasions, Holland has given up big leads to which his offense has staked him while at other times he has failed to get past the first inning or two of a start.

In those moments, former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington’s no-nonsense approach to dealing with Holland seemed to be just what the goofy southpaw needed. In 2011, Washington’s face-to-face words of wisdom just outside the Rangers’ dugout prior to game 4 of the World Series motivated the then 25-year-old pitcher to toss 8.1 innings of two-hit baseball.

But far too often, Holland has seemed to have mental lapses that should not plague a five-year-veteran as often as they plague Holland. His talent is unquestioned but his mental approach is often worrisome.

Now, the task of corralling that talent and focusing Holland’s personality falls on the 14-year big league veteran Brocail whose fierce competitive streak may be just the influence the happy-go-lucky Holland needs. Brocail was ejected six times in his big league career and the 6-foot-5 250-pound, 48-year-old can be an intimidating presence.

The new Rangers’ pitching coach may be the stern big brother type influence needed to keep Holland’s mind focused on every pitch and every hitter. If he does and Holland can be a solid piece of the Rangers’ 2016 rotation behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, Texas will have one of the best rotations in the game regardless if the final two members are Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis, Chi Chi Gonzalez or Martin Perez.

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Holland is now 29-years-old and it is time for him to become a reliable and effective starter in the big leagues. In 2016, he will make $10 million and Brocail’s most important job should be to ensure that the Texas Rangers get what they pay for.

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