Derek Holland was sensational during the 2011 World Series, pitching 8 1/3 shutout innings during a Game 4 victory. Thus, it seemed wise for the Texas Rangers to lock up the young, talented left-hander after that. However, Holland took a step back in 2012, winning 12 of 19 starts while posting a 4.67 ERA and battling various injuries and illnesses. The Rangers seem to be willing to let last season go as a fluke, but that could change quickly if Holland doesn’t step up in 2013. It’s natural for a young player to take a while to reach his potential, but MLB teams get impatient, especially when that player is making over $5 million per year.
Holland is a goofball and that will never change. However, he learned to control his comical side during the 2011 postseason and then was just off–in more ways than one–during the 2012 season. The Rangers want him to focus on channeling all that energy into becoming a better, well-rounded pitcher and Holland seems up for it, saying he’s going to take “a more serious approach” into 2013.
If Holland improves slightly with a few bright moments during the upcoming season, he’ll be fine. But if he doesn’t improve at all, or even takes a step back, Texas could start to reconsider his new deal and look elsewhere for a fifth starting pitcher. Holland isn’t fifth in the Rangers’ rotation right now, but if he’s booted after the 2013 season, the Rangers could go forward with someone like Robbie Ross, Martin Perez or Justin Grimm with their usual starters Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando. Again, this is just speculation at this point, but why wouldn’t the Rangers get impatient with Holland if he shows no improvement this year?
Holland is a fan favorite in Texas, so everyone is hoping he’ll have the breakout year Rangers fans have been waiting for. He likely will have a solid year and then continue to progress in 2014, but just know that a team starving for a championship won’t wait on anyone.