Derek Holland put together two of the better starts by a Rangers pitcher this year just a few weeks ago.
In his third start back from a four-month stint on the disabled list, Holland tossed a complete-game shutout against the Orioles, striking out 11 and walking none on 116 pitches. The next start, on Sept. 5, he went eight innings and allowed one run on 113 pitches against the Los Angeles Angels.
Since then, he's taken a pretty concerning fall in production and has been especially bad in this last three outings — sporting a 9.60 ERA in that span and never getting out of the sixth inning.
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The good news for Holland's start tonight — his final one of the regular season — is that it comes against that Angels lineup he mastered less than a month ago. The bad news? That lineup is red-hot right now and Holland has a ton of pressure on him to finish out the regular season on a good note as the Rangers prep themselves for the postseason next week.
Holland not only needs a good outing for his own psyche, he needs to prove to the Rangers he can be trusted like he was just a month ago when it seemed he'd be a No. 1a on a postseason pitching rotation if the Rangers were fortunate enough to make the playoffs.
Now that postseason appearance seems like a virtual lock, as they've at worst tied for the second Wild Card spot, and the Rangers would love to know Holland can be a front-end rotation guy right there with Colby Lewis slotted in after ace Cole Hamels.