Derek Holland’s final line in Monday’s 7-4 loss to the Yankees pointed to a decent amount of poor luck. While the White Sox committed two errors on the night, the game particularly unraveled on a play that was ultimately ruled a hit, when Jose Abreu bobbled a soft ground ball hit by Jacoby Ellsbury on what would’ve been the second out of New York’s five-run third inning.
Holland allowed six earned runs in 4.2 innings, but was forced to pitch around a Tim Anderson error in the second inning and was unable to do the same after the Abreu bobble and another error — this one by Melky Cabrera — in that ill-fated third.
Holland was unlucky on Monday. This is a solid narrative when discussing Monday’s loss, but it also fails to illustrate some of the more troubling trends that came out of his performance, namely, his inability to miss bats.
Even in his more successful years, Holland’s fastball has never been an “out” pitch. Hitters have swung and missed at his fastball just 5.79 percent of the time throughout his career, according the BrooksBaseball.net. And even during his most successful stretch — specifically the 2011 season — that number only reached 7.47 percent.
Holland generated 12 swings and misses in Monday’s start. As one would expect, 10 came on breaking pitches — sliders and curveballs — zero came on his fastball, and one on his sinker (Gameday classified this as a four-seamer and Brooks Baseball called it a sinker).
Holland’s profile relies on placement more than most, as he’s not wont to overpower hitters. Even in his two, more successful starts to begin the season, Holland wasn’t missing bats with the fastball, generating just four swings and misses (all on breaking pitches) in last Wednesday’s win over Cleveland, and just two against his fastball in his opening start against Minnesota.
Holland said as much after the start. After all, the 459-foot bomb hit by Matt Holliday came on a fastball left on the top of the strike zone, and the two-run shot by Aaron Judge that ultimately knocked Holland out of the game came on a hanging curveball that grabbed way too much of the plate.
Just as we weren’t about to overreact to the results Holland produced in his first two starts of the season, it would be foolish to predict doom and gloom based on Monday’s results. While it’s true that Holland’s location wasn’t sharp, there’s no telling what affect the additional pitches he was forced to throw because of misplays had.
But for the sake of both his trade value and his ability to soak up innings, his progress remains worth monitoring.
Lead Photo Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports