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Derek Holland Astounds, Confounds All at Once

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    NEWSLETTERS

    If they ever do a remake of "Forrest Gump," can we suggst a change to one of the original's most famous lines? 

    Instead of life being like a box of chocolates, perhaps the lovable simpleton could say that life is like Derek Holland. You can't be any more sure of what you're going to get from the lefty than you can be when grabbing a candy so it would work out.

    Holland shut out the Mariners last night, his second straight shutout and third of the season. Those aren't mileposts that Rangers pitchers reach all that often. Ken Hill was the last starter to throw three shutouts in a season and his 1996 season is the only other one that's featured three shutouts since the Ballpark opened its doors. You have to go all the way back to 1983 and Charlie Hough to find the last guy who threw consecutive shutouts for the Rangers.

    The first thought is that the Rangers have really had some dreadful pitching over the years but that quickly gives way to the feeling that Holland is as maddening a pitcher as there is in the big leagues. He has looked like the best pitcher in baseball over the last 18 innings, striking out 15 against just three walks and nine hits in the two shuouts. Those numbers are shocking because he barely looked fit for the low minors in his previous two starts.

    Pitching against the Mets and Marlins, two teams no one will mistake for the 1927 Yankees (although, to be fair, they are both better than the A's and Mariners), Holland managed to throw 6.2 innings while allowing 12 runs and striking out just one batter. Those two teams, a combined 24.5 games out of first place in the NL East, treated Holland like a glorified batting tee and his spot in the rotation was under serious discussion when he left the Marlins game without getting out of the first inning.

    The bipolar results go on. Holland threw his first shutout of the season on June 4th against Cleveland, a start that was sandwiched between four starts that saw Holland give up 19 runs in 22 innings. We could go on and on and point out all the times that Holland has flashed big time ability before losing his way, but you surely get the point by now.

    There are worse things than having a fifth starter who occasionally throws a gem, occasionally throws a turd and usually is somewhere in the mediocre midsection betwee them. To quote another movie, though, the saddest thing in life is wasted talent. Nights like Thursday make you wonder whether Holland's going to wind up doing that over the course of his career.