Pitching will be key for the Pirates in 2017, as it was perhaps the leading cause of another ever so familiar playoff-less campaign last year. Though the baseball gods may not want the Pirates or Derek Holland to tread water for too much longer. His once powerful left arm may have fell right before general manager Neal Huntington’s feet.
Holland, 30, considers the Pirates an option this off-season, per Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel.
“I’d say the Pirates are on our short list,” said Michael Martini, Holland’s agent.
If this doesn’t prove something, nothing will… Everyone around the league now knows Ray Searage and company were magically bestowed with a magic potion that leads to the reincarnation of forgotten pitchers’ arms (A.J. Burnett, J.A. Happ, Francisco Liriano, Ivan Nova, Edinson Volquez). But seriously, seeing as Holland has become a forgotten man himself, I could understand why he has bought into the hype.
Before becoming consigned to oblivion in the Rangers rotation, Holland experienced three fairly successful seasons (2011-2013) in Texas, which reached its highest peak during the 2011 World Series. Holland compiled 10 1/3 outstanding innings of baseball, only allowing one run throughout the series.
However, a dark cloud would soon encompass Holland’s career following the 2013 season. Injuries began plaguing him, and the left-hander wouldn’t reach 100 innings between 2014 and 2015 combined.
The veteran southpaw’s inning total narrowly surpassed 100 in 2016. Much of Holland’s burden is placed on continuous, nagging left shoulder inflammation. Nevertheless, he did return late in the year to amass a few innings, not necessarily quality innings. Relentless shoulder issues led to an ample amount of his velocity disappearing — nearly three MPH — and his ground ball rate reaching a career-low in 2016.
But history shows Holland is the type of project Pittsburgh relishes: low-risk and high-reward bargain.
And it shouldn’t go without noting that Holland owns some ties to Pittsburgh and the Pirates organization.
Current Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, before taking the helm in Pittsburgh, served as Texas’ hitting coach in 2010, which also was Holland’s second big league season. And to put a cherry on top, longtime Pirates coach Jeff Banister had managed Holland since 2015. So there would be some familiarity with how Pittsburgh runs their day-to-day operations.
Important Info: Martini said Holland is finally “100 percent healthy.”
Until something contractually becomes feasible for Holland, expect him to continue building strength in that left arm down near Irving, Texas.
Editor’s Note: Holland (dutchoven45) is hilarious on Snapchat. Very much worth the add.
Joe Cinello covers Pirates material for Pittsburgh Sports Castle. Connect with him on Facebook (Joey Cinello), Linkedin (Joseph Cinello) and Twitter (jcin13).