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Holland Needs a Statement Start

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Derek Holland has been on the brink of stardom for quite some time.

    The kid they call "The Dutch Oven" was one of the Texas Rangers' coveted uber prospects a few years back and he's had his fair share of moments in the big leagues with multiple complete game shutouts, including one in Cleveland this year.

    He's a lefty. He throws hard. He has filthy off-speed stuff and he's proven that he's mentally tough with that heartbreaking performance in the World Series last year after which he came back in the next game and had a shutdown inning of relief.

    But now he's reached a crossroads. Is he going to be a starter or a reliever down the stretch for this team?

    He's 5-2 now with a 4.78 ERA after a rough start in Yankee Stadium in which the Rangers lost 12-4 after Holland gave up six runs in five innings.

    You'd have to think Holland would be the guy to remain in the rotation as long as he doesn't lose the job, and deservedly so. But with some injured arms set to come back in the near future, Holland might be pushed out of the fifth spot in the rotation in favor of strengthening the bullpen, which has undoubtedly been a weak link for the team this season.

    Tommy Hunter (groin), Scott Feldman (knee) and Brandon Webb (shoulder) are all rehabbing right now. It would seem Hunter is the closest to returning, that same Hunter that went 13-4 in the regular season last year and was perfect at home.

    Holland was a valuable piece of the bullpen last year, while Hunter seems to fit into the starting role moreso than a bullpen one.

    So a great start tonight for Holland against a bad Astros team would go a long way in showing he's ready to man a rotation spot.

    "I definitely feel it will be and I'm very prepared for this," Holland told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan on Sunday morning. "I've spent some time with [pitching coach Mike Maddux] working on a couple of things. I've forgotten about my start in New York and I'm ready to put it behind me."