Derek Holland has come a long way over the last few years, but he's not a totally finished product.
We got a big reminder of that on Monday night. Holland once again melted down in the face of the Yankees, the team that is to him what Moby Dick was to Captain Ahab. The 7-4 loss dropped Holland to 0-5 with a 9.26 ERA in seven career regular season appearances against them.
Strangely enough, Holland threw 5.2 shutout innings against them in the 2009 ALCS. Obviously it isn't just the sight of Derek Jeter that turns him from a capable pitcher into a career minor leaguer who will one day tell his grandchildren about the day he gave up a home run to Alex Rodriguez. That doesn't make it any easier to explain why he can't get the job done against them in the regular season.
It might not have anything to do with the Yankees at all. Holland walked four batters on Monday night and all of the walks came after the count ran full on batters. The Yankees are a patient team at the plate, something that doesn't help Holland all that much, and getting one or two more pitches early in the night might have wound up making a big difference in the final score.
Those walks and the resulting runs also magnified the one big red flag in Holland's game this season. He's walked three or more hitters in three of his starts this season. You can get away with that against some teams, but you can't really get away with it against teams that have a lineup as deep and talented as the Yankees bring to the ballpark.
It wasn't a good night, by any means, but it did help provide a little bit of perspective about how good the Rangers have pitched this season. This is by far the worst outing of the season by a Rangers starter and, all things considered, it could have been a whole lot worse.
Holland was able to get through six innings, saving the bullpen ahead of Yu Darvish and a spot start by Scott Feldman. That's significant, as is the fact that Holland was able to keep from totally imploding when the Yankees made life difficult for him. These are ways to rationalize a bad outing, of course, but you're going to have bad nights when you play 162 games in a season.
And most of them aren't against the Yankees, which is the best news of all for Holland.