The emergence of the closer in Major League Baseball is easily one of the greater shifts in the history of the game. Where once a starting pitcher was expected to pitch the entire game no matter what, it has now gotten to where it is rare for a starter to go the distance. That isn’t only because of the closer but few things in the history of MLB have affected the ability of a team to win or lose more than whether or not they have a capable closer in their bullpen. The Kansas City Royals are double lucky to have Greg Holland.
Not only is Holland capable of saving games with the best of them as he proved by converting 47 save chances during the 2013 season, but he is also stable. That means he is not going anywhere, any time soon. He is young enough that his first season of free agency would be 2017. We will have to see how his ability and the Royals devotion to their pitching staff changes between now and then. What should happen though is they should lock him up for at least a five year extension here in a few years to ensure they have that crucial closer in their bullpen.
For now if you asked who the best closers in the game were in 2013, Holland’s name probably wouldn’t come up immediately. Mariano Rivera was great again this year and you have Joe Nathan, Craig Kimbrel and several others that are very good. Holland is certainly as good as most of those guys and with a little more experience should be thought of as one of the top five or ten closers in the game. The Royals would either be silly, or certain they have someone just as good waiting if they didn’t lock him up.