The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly interested in free agent pitcher Derek Holland. The pitcher told MLB Network Radio that the Reds have been in contact with him during the offseason.
Free agent Derek Holland told us on @MLBNetworkRadio that the #Reds have been in contact with him this offseason. Holland is from Newark, Ohio, and prefers pitching for NL clubs because he likes staying more involved in games (e.g., pinch running). @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 31, 2018
After having three consecutive below-average seasons from 2015-2017, Derek Holland went to San Francisco and found his groove. With the Giants in 2018 he posted a 3.57 ERA in 171.1 innings over 30 starts and six relief appearances. He allowed 154 hits, 19 home runs, walked 67 batters, and he had 169 strikeouts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.52 was the best he has had since the 2013 season.
His improvements certainly came in large part due to his increase in strikeout rate. The 23.3% strikeout rate was easily the best he has ever had. In the previous four years his strikeout rate was between 14.5% and 17.2% – all of which were well below-average.
Derek Holland didn’t really change his pitch usage that much compared to the larger part of his career. His slider usage was up compared to the previous two seasons – but in line with the few years prior to that. His velocity didn’t change, either.
There were some changes in approach and execution, though. First, let’s take a look at where he worked the strikezone in 2017 versus 2018.
In 2018 he caught a lot less of the middle of the zone overall than he did in the previous season. But it wasn’t just overall where he changed things up. Derek Holland also really changed his pitch location to start at-bats.
There, again, was a lot less of the middle of the zone to begin an at-bat. Pitches were higher, and more to the non-armside of the plate in 2018 than they were in 2017.
The stuff didn’t change for Derek Holland much from one year to the next. But his execution of that stuff, did. There’s certainly a history of struggles in recent years, but he did change things up in 2018 and it worked out well for him.
The projections don’t believe much that he turned a corner. But that’s kind of how projection systems work. They’re built around the past few seasons performance more so than just one season – so the struggles from the previous years still weigh heavily. The Steamer projection has Holland projected for a 4.58 ERA in 2019. The Marcels projection has Holland in line for a 4.44 ERA in 2019. Neither of those seem too far off, though.
As Redleg Nation writer Nick Kirby noted on twitter earlier, this could be a good pick up for the Reds if the price is right. Holland has experience as both a starter and a reliever. That could give the team options on not only how to use him, but others on the pitching staff depending on how things play out with the development of the younger starters.