ST. PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 07: Pitcher Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 7, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Ryan Dempster saw his streak of quality starts come to an end on Tuesday night as he failed to get out of the third inning as the Rangers got slaughtered by the desperate Los Angeles Angels, who are on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention after beefing up their payroll and roster in the winter to hopefully overtake the Rangers in the AL West.
Tonight, the Angels will look to stop another streaking Rangers starter as Derek Holland takes the mound riding the wave of five straight quality starts in which he's closer resembled the Holland of the second half of last season when he was one of the best pitchers in baseball after having previously never compiled three straight quality starts.
The 25-year-old lefty has had two hard-luck losses in his previous two outings, as he's allowed just three runs in 15 innings of work with 18 strikeouts and three walks. Those, friends, are what you call ace numbers.
He's 0-2 against the Angels this season, but both of those starts were earlier in the year when he was still trying to find the 2011 version of himself.
"I've gotten a lot more stronger," Holland told ESPNDallas. "I've definitely made better pitches the last few starts. I've gotten a lot more confident than the last time they saw me. Stronger, more confident, just overall a better pitcher than I was before."
To spice things up even more is the fact that Holland will square off with Angels pitcher C.J. Wlson, Holland's former teammate in Texas, close friend and even somewhat of a mentor last season.
What Holland does tonight, against a team that has been a fair source of demons for him this year, will go a long way in predicting which version of Holland we will see in October.