LHP Derek Holland.
Through his first 12 starts of the 2013 season, Texas Rangers lefty Derek Holland resembled the Derek Holland the Rangers saw in the second half of the 2011 season, when he was one of baseball's top pitchers over the course of the final three months of the season and pitched the greatest postseason game in Rangers history in Game 4 of the 2011 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Last season, Holland struggled with injury, illness and inconsistency but made a conscious effort to ditch the joking acts and be more serious, at least on a public stage, this year, and the serious Holland appeared to be paying dividends.
Through those 12 starts, Holland had compiled a 2.82 ERA with a 5-2 record, 76 strikeouts and 21 walks while allowing just four home runs in 79 2/3 innings. In his last two starts, however, Holland has regressed back into the Holland of old, failing to get out of the fifth inning in last week's loss to Cleveland and giving up two homers and 10 hits in six innings in Sunday's loss to Toronto.
In fairness, the offensive slump the Rangers are in at the moment not only affects the lineup, but also the starting pitchers as a lack of run production magnifies each and every pitch and puts more pressure on the Rangers' starters to be in ace mode to make up for the lack of offense.
Holland had visions of being the skid-stopper on Sunday, hoping to halt the Rangers' losing streak at five games, but instead it stretched to six, the longest such streak the Rangers have seen since the beginning of the 2010 season.
“I didn’t do my job of keeping the momentum down,” Holland told The Dallas Morning News. “I really wanted to be the guy to stop it.”
With his next scheduled start slated for Friday night in St. Louis against baseball's best team, Holland will need to regroup in a hurry, but if the Rangers are lucky maybe he can draw from his 2011 October outing against the Cardinals for some confidence to get back on the winning track.