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.

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.

16 Responses

  1. Doug Gray

    You can be a successful pitcher without being a groundball pitcher.

  2. JERRY

    I like holland more than I like miley and sanchez. Holland would fit nice in the rotation/pen

    • Jay

      I am with you on this. I don’t trust Miley to have the year he did last year. If it was a choice between the two. I would choose Holland.

      Just throwing this out there too, My prediction of our next significant transaction will occur sometime between Jan. 15 to 20th. Don’t have any data to support why except my gut feeling.

  3. Brady

    Another mid-to-back end rotation guy at a probably reasonable cost.

  4. Reaganspad

    I was just looking at his numbers this morning before this article. Holland is LH which I like to balance our rotation. He also has been pitching in the AL up to last year, so continued success under 4 like he had last year with SF may not be unheard of, although it might tick up from last year.

    We need left handers… does he he cost us due to QO?

  5. Rich

    I like that he offers the flexibility as either as a starter or as a reliever too. It would be great if the Reds could land him on a two year deal. Plus, being a Western Carolina grad too, I would enjoy seeing him in a Reds uniform.

  6. Scott C

    It is hard to see him as a legitimate starter even in the star-less rotation the Reds have. He is 32 years old so there is another thing. I think I would rather have a rotation of Castillo, Wood, Desclafani, Roark and one of the young guys (Reed/Mahle/Lorenzen/Stephenson) than signing someone who just had one good year out of four. He has only had three seasons with an ERA under 4 with 2013 being his best at 3.42. However he does seem to usually have a decent BB/9 rate and a pretty decent HR/9. So that is good Who knows he may be a decent pick up for a decent price on a fairly short contract.

  7. scottya

    I don’t believe he adds enough value to the team as currently constructed, even if it’s lower than the expected AV (7.5 million). IMO, holland falls into that same category as Mike Fiers and others the Reds considered. Just not enough performance history or expectation to provide much upgrade for the $’s spent.

    There are several other free agents that I’d rather see the Reds spend the money to attain. Particularly Adam Ottavino 10 million av and or Yasmani Grandall 15 million av among others.

  8. ToBeDetermined

    Also, maybe this means a few pitchers such as Mahle, Stephenson and Iglesias are being shipped somewhere for someone from the former “mistake by the lake”.
    Just wondering.

  9. turbobuckeye

    Using $ on a mid to back end guy isn’t a good allocation of limited resources. We have enough of those. The $ would be better spent on higher end talent. Not necessarily DK (I would not give him 5 years–we just got over the Homer nightmare).

  10. Ethan L

    A SIERA of 4.20 has him classified as “below average” according FG. Below average is good in this rotation though. A fWAR of 2.0 is decent and better than Roark’s fWAR1.9. As has been stated, 3-5 starter here.

    Many pitchers are bound to get hurt this year. He adds depth and some versatility (bullpen and rotation).

    Therefore, I am for signing him.

  11. JB WV

    Pass. This might sound funny, but I don’t think Finnegan is finished and could be that second arm out of the bullpen we need. Reed is also a candidate. Reds are probably just kicking the tires on this guy.

  12. Jay

    I too have been wondering if the Reds are in on trying to get one of the remaining top shelf relievers that are left on the market still. I honestly feel like we just need 1 more good reliever to make our bullpen pretty strong.

  13. Jay

    He was never coming to the Reds. I may never see an Asian Pitcher come to Cincinnati in my lifetime.

  14. Mark

    I think if you get the 2018 Holland you sign him up for 5th starter. The whole key here the next 6 weeks before spring training is the cf 2b situation. Do they decide to mix and match Schebler and Senzel in CF, go with the wildcard Siri in CF if he has an excellent Spring he would be basically BH and bring speed and defense or go out and either sign pollack to a 3 year deal or trade for an Inciarte if available? I don’t buy they are looking to add Grandol I don’t see that happening.

  15. JoshG

    No need for another back end rotation pitchers