For much of this season, there wasn't a better pitcher for the Texas Rangers than lefty Derek Holland.
It appeared the embattled pitcher had finally turned a corner and become what the Rangers had hoped he would when they gave him a big contract extension a year ago before he had one of his worst seasons that was stymied by illness and injury.
But lately, Holland has regressed to being the inconsistent tire fire he made a habit of being earlier in his career as his last three starts have all left a lot to be desired. But Wednesday, he has chance to get back on track and start a winning streak for the Rangers, who snapped a seven-game skid with Tuesday night's win over Tampa Bay.
Holland is 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA but has seen that ERA climb a half-run over his last three outings, including his nightmarish start against Oakland last week when he failed to record an out in the fourth inning and gave up six earned runs on two long balls — a growing issue for Holland after he'd cut down on the homers for much of the season. He's 0-3 in September with an ERA eclipsing 10.00.
Holland is a prideful pitcher who's hard on himself after failures, and he's been his own biggest critic over these last three starts. After what had to have been a spark provided to the entire clubhouse on Tuesday when the Rangers snapped a seven-game skid of not only losing, but not holding a lead even once, Holland should be a prime candidate for a rebound outing on Wednesday.
A win by Holland would ensure a series split with the Rays, which is all we asked for on this blog heading into it when we laid out the plan to claim one of the two wild cards in the American League.
Holland has the stuff to be phenomenal, and now he needs to start showing it again.