Six MLB relief pitchers with a lot to prove in 2019

Six MLB relief pitchers with a lot to prove in 2019

Chin Music Baseball

Six MLB relief pitchers with a lot to prove in 2019

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Sep 3, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Greg Holland (56) throws to the St. Louis Cardinals during the tenth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Holland, Arizona Diamondbacks

If you’re thinking Greg Holland was in a similar spot with regard to his free agency last year, that’s because you’re right. He basically split his 2018 down the middle between the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals, and his numbers with these two teams couldn’t be more different.

Through 25 innings with St. Louis, he struggled to a 7.92 ERA with a 16.7% strikeout rate and 16.7% walk rate. His final 21.1 frames were spent in the nation’s capital, where he posted a sparkling 0.84 ERA with a 31.3% strikeout rate and 12.5% walk rate.

If he turned it around so much, why is he still on the open market, then? Well, quite a few of Holland’s peripherals with Washington show he’s a candidate for regression. Maybe not regression to the point of an ERA approaching 8.00, but it’s hard to trust a 33-year-old pitch with stark contrasts between his BABIP allowed (.379 in STL, .186 in WAS), strand rate (51.3% in STL, 96.8% in WAS), and line-drive rate (29.9% in STL, 16.3% in WAS) last year.

What potentially interested teams can be encouraged by was Holland’s 15.1% swinging-strike rate with the Nats, making that increase in strikeouts seem sustainable. He also threw his curveball more often, which improved in value on a per-100-pitch basis quite significantly between St. Louis (-4.36) and Washington (1.15).

Now that he’s actually signed prior to Spring Training, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to get ready to prove himself.

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