Derek Holland missed four months with his shoulder strain before coming off the disabled list on a tear, tossing a complete-game shutout and another eight-inning outing within a few starts back from the DL.
But it might've been too much too fast, because after that eight-inning start against the Angels, he struggled horribly for four starts, and was really bad for three of them — compiling an ERA of nearly 10.00 over his three starts leading up to Thursday's, which was his final start of the regular season.
Holland really needed a good start on Thursday, not just because the Rangers needed to win to avoid the pressure of a possible four-game sweep by the Angels and to move their Magic Number to 1 to clinch the AL West, but also just to give the team confidence in him again heading into the postseason.
He gave the Rangers everything they wanted, and he did it without his sharpest, best stuff. It was a huge development as his next start will come in the ALDS, the Rangers hope.
Holland worked 6 1/3 innings on 98 pitches, allowing three runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out six. It wasn't a gem, but it was plenty good enough to give him and the team confidence in his ability again after it was looking like he might just be fatigued with no real remedy.