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Has anyone noticed the year Derek Holland is having? This is me raising my hand. You can’t see it, but you’ll just have to trust me. I’ve noticed. And I’m sure those in Arlington have noticed. And perhaps even a Derek Holland owner here and there has maybe gotten a whiff of what he’s cooking. Hopefully it’s brisket. I mean, yes, he’s certainly cooking some great pitching stats (3.18 ERA, 8 Wins, 135 K’s) for teams throughout the fantasy baseball universe. But what I’m saying is, why can’t he also be cooking brisket? Furthermore, why am I not cooking brisket? These are all fantastic questions. Does this have anything to do with baseball at all? Fantasy baseball even? No, it doesn’t. So? I’m not even going to bother justifying it. It’s brisket. I should be able to write in a superfluous fashion about that crispy burned concoction of cow breast, slowly cooked with a spicy yet savory rub… Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmmm. Err, you were saying? Derek Holland? Who the ef cares about Derek Holland? Brisket bro.

Besides Yu Darvish, there has not been another Texas pitcher that has held down the fort better than Derek Holland. Brisket? Fort’s? This clearly is a post with a bit of Texas going on. So obviously, let’s talk guns. And cowboy hats. And car balls. (Sorta NSFW? Probably.) I guess we *could* talk about the valiant efforts by Alexi Ogando, Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch and Martin Perez, who have either been in, or are currently in the Rangers rotation. We could even talk about the recently acquired Matt Garza, who is in the mix, but basically the new kid on the block. But we’re not, because out of all those names, it has been Yu and Holland that have carried fantasy staffs this year. And we already know about Yu. And also you, coincidentally. Not really, but it seemed like the natural next step. Maybe we will one day. Drones are so cool until they’re above your house.

Coming off a 2012 season that saw Derek Holland provide, well, less than, one must wonder, first, what changed, and second, if this change is sustainable. Just to put these two seasons into perspective, let’s quickly go table all over this place.

W L IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 HR/FB ERA FIP
2012 12 7 175.1 7.44 2.67 1.64 15.2% 4.67 4.75
2013 9 6 155.0 8.42 2.55 0.64 7.0% 3.02 2.96
Career 7.62 2.91 1.21 11.9% 4.35 4.16

Did you get any table on your face? Oh, just your hair? Don’t worry, it’ll come out. That concussion? Not so much. You know, table, as in kitchen table… never mind. There are several aspects of that table that are intriguing. Can you tell me which ones? Of course not, because this is not an interactive post. Unless it is, but then that would just be crazy. And we’d be in the future or something. With dragons that have lasers. And you’d be talking to the computer. Stop doing that, it’s weird. The most intriguing numbers are his K/9, HR/9, and HR/FB. In a case like this one, I would eyeball a player’s BABIP almost immediately to try and get a grasp on what’s going on. Would you be surprised to find out that Holland’s BABIP is actually higher this year than last? To the tune of .314 versus .261? Fascinating. How could a pitcher show such a drastic improvement with a worse batting average on balls in play? Simply put, a pitcher could do this by becoming better. All this tells us is that luck has nothing to do with it, or rather, very little to do with it.

Interestingly enough, Derek Holland’s velocity has improved from last season, but not drastically so. In fact, there is only a 0.7 MPH increase. While that theoretically could augment the numbers to a certain extent, the interesting part is that his 93.3 average fastball velocity matches his career number. Okay, you’re right, it wasn’t that interesting. However, I am now less inclined to accept that his fastball speed has any bearing on the situation. So now that we’ve ruled out both luck and velocity, along with the fact that he hasn’t added a new pitch to his repertoire, there are only two places left to go.

And that’s usage and sequencing. No, we won’t be sewing, seeing as how I mentally just went to sequins. I’m sure you can find that sort of thing over in JB Gilpin’s posts. Maybe. I’m just guessing. He seems like he would be a good seamstress, does he not? C’mon, big man, southerner, affinity for pastels and the robust color of eggshell. And all things Ryan Dempster… Anyhow, let’s do another table session up in here to set up my usage and sequins section. Err, sequencing.

FB% SL% CB% CH%
2012 68.5 11.3 14.5 5.7
2013 59.3 27.0 4.8 8.9
Career 65.7 15.9 9.3 9.0

There it is folks. Sliders. Wait, no, not sliders. CAN YOU TELL I’M HUNGRY? These kinds of Sliders… no wait, that’s not it either. Trip McNeely! These are the sliders I’m talking about…

When throwing his slider, Holland gets a 25.3 whiff rate, a large improvement from last season’s 19.3% and career rate of 21.3%. Obviously, he knows what the most effective pitch in his arsenal is this year, and he’s throwing it at the right time. In two-strike counts, Holland uses the slider as his hammer pitch 45.5% of the time, something he only did 29.9% previously in his career. And, throwing the slider at an increased rate, and, perhaps more appropriately, throwing the slider in certain situations, has been the primary factor for the year he’s produced thus far.

The lower usage of his curveball has also played a secondary role. In fact, during Holland’s up-and-down career, he was primarily known as a fastball-curveball pitcher. And it just so happens that his curveball is the one most likely to leave the yard. His fourseam fastball ends up a home run 0.99% of the time. His slider? 0.67%. And his changeup has never left the yard. Yet his curveball ends up a home run 3.28% of the time. It’s no wonder how Holland has suppressed his HR/9 to such an extent. Logic dictates if you throw bad pitches less, less bad things will happen. That was me philosophizing. So while he hasn’t added anything to his repertoire, Holland has certainly edited it, and through usage and sequencing, has made adjustments that have achieved more strikeouts and limited the home run ball.

Sometimes, it’s so easy to just assume that luck plays a huge part in profound skill changes. And to be honest, most of the time, it is luck. In the scope of things, 30 or so starts, a full season worth of data, is still technically a small sample size. So to figure out whether or not changes are sustainable, it helps when there is tangible evidence to either confirm or deny what we are seeing is for real or not.

Derek Holland, in a nutshell, is starting to figure things out. The 26-year-old southpaw is pitching like an ace, and after four seasons of not pitching like an ace, now is the time to believe.

Final Verdict:

 

Jaywrong is a 30-year old Korish writer who finds solace using Makers Mark as a vehicle to impress women, and also has an affinity for making Jennifer Lawrence GIFs. You can follow him @jaywrong, read his blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow, or, you can find his GIFs at his tumblr, named Siuijeonseo.

  1. Alex says:
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    Love me some some Holland

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Alex: AND brisket.

  2. Jay

    jaywrong says:
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    AND brisket.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @jaywrong: the best double post ever.

  3. Alex says:
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    grass fed please

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Alex: Sure.

  4. Sixto Lezcano says:
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    I picked up Holland on WAIVERS. How preposterous is that?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Sixto Lezcano: In a 4-team league?

  5. Mike

    Mike says:
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    Derek Holland, in a nutshell, is starting to figure things out.

  6. Matt says:
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    Asked Grey this but wanted your opinion too since you know keepers

    Which side this year in dynasty?

    Lance Lynn/Ernesto Frieri OR Miggy Montero/Kenrys Morales

    Typical 5×5 rotisserie

    Gracias

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Matt: Montero/Morales

  7. Moose Out Front says:
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    Simple as that, More sliders, less curveballs. Nice article.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Moose Out Front: Yup. Actually, maybe I should have just typed that… hrmm

  8. jeff says:
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    Cingrani and Skaggs – What can we expect from them next year? Where would you rank each among SP?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @jeff: Around average major league pitchers with a chance to do more.

      I have Skaggs over Cingrani. I’m not sure it’s close.

      • jeff says:
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        @jaywrong: At least over the small sample size Cingrani has been better and seems to have developed his curve. Why Skaggs over Cingrani?

        Also, Skaggs has been considered an elite prospect and Cingrani has been a beast. What about them makes you seem them as average starters going forward?

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @jeff: I like Skaggs scouting report more, I think the ceiling is higher, and he’s two years younger.

          I think regression is due for Cingrani, and I think some, if not a majority of his success might be more deception than stuff. That fastball has a straight plane. And the curveball is not consistent.

          And I find young pitchers in general to be volatile. For every Matt Harvey, there are 10 Ryan Anderson’s, so I usually expect a league average pitcher until they’re not.

          • jeff says:
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            @jaywrong: Thanks! Was working on a trade in a keeper league and this helps.

            • Jay

              jaywrong says:
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              @jeff: No prob. Keep me updated if you’d like.

            • Fish says:
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              @jeff:

              Good stuff here. The development of a Curve, or any other pitch, for Cingrani is huge. When he was called up way back in April, he was known only for his fastball. Not saying I’m against Jay’s position, but without that development I think Cingrani was heading for a belly-flop off the Golden Gate bridge sooner rather than later.

              • Jay

                jaywrong says:
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                @Fish: I agree with what you said. I want to see more, but while I think he has potential, I’m just not sold on him like others are.

                • Fish says:
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                  @jaywrong:

                  I sold him earlier in the season since I legitimately thought the wheels were going to come off his wagon. So far I’ve been proven wrong*, but that’s okay since I now have a new toy – Kzar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                  Maybe I underestimated how awesome Dusty Baker is at managing pitchers.

  9. nathann says:
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    who do you think gets the better side of this trade ? Allen Craig & granderson for Kendrys, Justin Upton, & Rafael Soriano?

    thank you

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @nathann: I’d take the Upton side if I were needing the saves.

  10. Yankee My Wankee says:
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    Rest of the (fantasy) season – A-Roid vs. Alfonso Soriano?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Yankee My Wankee: Soriano, unless its an OBP league.
      Frankly, I have no idea what to expect from Arod.

  11. Matt P says:
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    Jay ! How many years do you think AJ Burnett has left in him? Thinking of flipping Holliday for him in my dynasty league (16 team, h2h points)… I’d plug Fowler into the OF and pick up Smoak or Ruf… bad idea?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Matt P: Hmm, actually, I think I’d hold. Not sure what to think of him after this season.

  12. MB says:
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    The Sale owner is ignoring my Buxton offer. Made me think, crazy to go after Bumgarner instead in dynasty? need me some Ks now to pull away

    thanks

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @MB: I actually like Bumgarner a bit more than Sale long term.

      • Cashman says:
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        @jaywrong: Who do you like in a keepr between MadBum & Scherzer?

        Thanks!

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @Cashman: slightly max.

  13. High Home says:
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    ROS… PLEASE rank in order of more RBI? Lake, Lagares, Calhoun, Wilmer Flores
    Thanks

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @High Home: Calhoun, Flores, Lake, Lagares.

  14. Pete says:
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    Would you drop either Casher or Boegarts to pick up Carlos Martinez (starting today) in a 12 team H2H points league?

    • Pete says:
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      @Pete: *Cashner

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Pete: Maybe Cashner. I’m hesitant though. If you are desperate for pitching, prolly Boegarts.

      • Pete says:
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        @jaywrong: Yeah, not desperate. Thinking down the road to playoffs and since Cashner will almost certainly be shut down maybe CMart would be a good “lottery ticket” and definitely more likely to be pitching then.

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @Pete: It’s a fair point. Maybe more from the bullpen though, so keep that in mind.

  15. t moore says:
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    My Dearest Mr. Wrong: Not bad here at the CDC secret Isolation center…

    The Jello is great… Makes one kinda woozy though…

    Sorry, I didn’t get back to you earlier yesterday… But, my team Carlisle United had brilliant shootout win over the much bigger club the Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup on TV in Amerika ( a rare thing, that)… I would have gone out and run down some sheep last night if they would have let me out of here…

    I had to been content running around the ward shouting, SUPER CARLISLE!!! CARLISLE FROM THE NORTH!!! UNITED!!!… Until they put that horrible canvas shirt on me again – the on with the suoer long sleeves – and force fed me a quart of the tasty purple Jello

    Something strange about a thread on good Texas pitching … I am a YU man… Have had him on teams (reserves) since 2007… Holland is a nice surprise…

    You might be interested, I’m getting mixed news on my Magic FBB MOJO Wand illness..

    The good news is it is treatable…

    The bad news is, the treatment is the radical amputation of the entire nether region…

    Actually, the MAGPIES had a good night for the first time in over a week last night… The oozing is drying up… Picked up Fields after his blow up (thinking who else do the Stros have)
    and spot starting the sizziling Johhny Gomes today..

    GO MAGPIES

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @t moore: So maybe my luck goes to your football team, not baseball. Maybe that’s whats going on here.

      I own Yu everywhere as well. But I wished I owned you.

  16. t moore says:
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    OOOOOOOoooooo’ , you naughty naughty man, you

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