Texas Rangers need a big year from Derek Holland


Derek Holland needs to bring his A-game to the Texas Rangers in 2013. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

I’m not the biggest fan of Derek Holland. For those who have read my posts, you know exactly how I feel about the young left-hander.

For those who are just getting to know me, I’ll write it again so you know exactly where I stand: He’s inconsistent. Actually, let me make it a little more clear: He’s the most inconsistent pitcher the Texas Rangers have going into 2013 — not only in the rotation but also in the bullpen.

With that said, I can stop waving my non-fandom flag for a few minutes while I talk about why the Rangers need him to come up huge this season.

I could make this short and sweet by saying another bad, inconsistent season could mean the end of his tenure as a starter for this organization. It could also punch his ticket to trade deadlineville by the end of July. Yeah, it really could get that bad.

The one thing I’ve never doubted with Holland is his ability. There’s no question this young pitcher can step up, bring his A-game to the ballpark, and look like one of the more dominant pitchers in the American League. That’s exactly the guy the Rangers need in 2013. They need “that” guy.

One problem lies between the greatness and potential that is Derek Holland. Those who like stats behind arguments are going to get exactly that. It’s a problem I can only describe one way: eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head syndrome.

What I mean is Holland has the ability to lose focus on the hitter in front of him when he has runners behind him. It’s not just something that rears its ugly head once in a blue moon, it seems to come up more often than not.

Focusing on the hitter in front of him, especially with no one behind him, Holland has a .252 batting-average against, but he also has given up his highest number of career home runs (44) with no one on base. Then things start to take a drastic, northern, turn.

With runners on base, his batting-average against jumps 25 points from .252 to .275. Put those runners in scoring position and the numbers climb another 34 points up to .309. How about runners in scoring position with two outs? It climbs yet again, another 14 points up to .323 batting-average against.

People want to argue stats and they want to argue numbers. Although to some, there are numbers they believe in more than others.

Whether I’m right or wrong is a matter of opinion, and although I’ve never been the biggest supporter of Holland’s, I do believe he can give the Texas Rangers their biggest boost since the team acquired Cliff Lee at the trade deadline a few seasons ago.

I won’t get anywhere close to comparing Lee to Holland, but they are both left-handers, and they both have the ability to take over a game when they have their best stuff going.

There’s little doubt Holland can be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher if he ever figures out how to put his game together at one time. There are some who will argue  what kind of pitcher he can be or even that he can be a number-one starter some day; they’ve all seen what kind of pitcher he can be when he’s absolutely locked in. Take his start against Tampa Bay on September 7 last year, giving up a single run while striking out 11 in eight innings of work.

The Texas Rangers need Holland to be the best he’s been since he’s been in a Ranger uniform. They need him to step up his talent level and be the guy they know he can be. We can talk about his potential as much as we want, but that potential needs to turn into action in 2013, especially if Texas wants to stay anywhere near the top of the division race.

If Holland can learn to keep his focus on what’s in front of him instead of what’s behind him, he might actually figure out how to not let close games slip away.

Holland will never with a Cy YoungAward, at least not the left-hander we saw this past season, but he can be a dangerous number-three starter who gives the Texas Rangers arguably the best front three, not only in the AL West, but in the entire American League.

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