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01/17/2013

I'm a sucker for the other Texas Rangers lefty

Holland051309The U.S.S. Sucker is a lonely place, especially when it comes to the belief in a certain left handed Texas Rangers starting pitcher.

No, not Matt Harrison, whom the Rangers have given a long-term, $55 million deal. Good for him, and the club. He is a solid, innings eater and a reliable lefty.

As much as we should like Harrison the lefty on this staff whom I remain most intrigued by, and still believe in despite growing evidence he's never going to establish himself as a consistent winner, is Derek Holland.

It is the fact that he is left handed, only 26, and when he is right his delivery reminds me of a Tom Glavine - effortless, and without too much stress. He says he models himself after Andy Pettite.

Holland was a disappointing 12-7 with a 4.67 ERA in 29 games last season for the Rangers, including 27 starts. What is hard to determine is which pitcher he is.

"I agree with you," Holland told me last month in an interview. "My big thing is last year was a let down. I think I tried to do way too much all that once. I got sick and I lost all of that weight and I got hurt. ... When I came back after I got hurt I put so much pressure on myself and to try to fix everything at once. That hurt me more than anything. I did not handle it the way that I should have." 

11190061In 2011, Holland finished 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 198 innings that included four shutouts. In Game 4 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he allowed two hits and no runs in 8 1/3 innings that the Rangers won, 4-0 to even the series at two games.

(let's not talk about Game 6 or 7).

Last season, all of that progress and promise ceased. He was not the same pitcher and the Rangers never knew which guy they were going to see. When he is right he can counted on to throw a lot of innings, locate the ball at the knees, and induce a high number of ground balls. When he is wrong, he walks too many guys and leaves too many hittable pitches in the middle of the plate.

We may get an idea of who is in 2013 as he is expected to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic thingy.

In this offseason, he said he has reached out to team president Nolan Ryan, pitching coach Mike Maddux, GM Jon Daniels in an effort to find out as much information as possible to improve. They are all saying the same thing.

"It's location. When I'm on, I'm never in the middle. When I'm off, I'm missing in the middle," Holland said. "That is what I'm trying to fix so when I'm not on that I work my way out. ... Last year was a big let down. I know everybody has them. This year is going to be a big year. I'm going to be that guy that everybody is counting on."

The reliable lefty on the Rangers right now is Matt Harrison.

I'm still betting that Holland can be the best left hander on this staff.

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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Comments

Laquon Treadwell

the guy can pitch as good as i can catch

Rangers Fan in Dallas

Our staff is okay but if we are going to compete for a World Series ring we need to improve. It's easy to be cynical but I love our Rangers and I love baseball. I am hoping for our team, and our on-again, off-again, fans we improve our pitching staff. We are fun to watch but all the more fun when the other team doesn't score quite as much.

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