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Entries in Greg Holland (1)

Wednesday
Mar212012

Greg Holland's Slider

With Joakim Soria and his damaged UCL likely headed for Tommy John surgery, the Royals are holding auditions for a new closer. Sans Soria, Kansas City still boasts a power 'pen including Aaron Crow (whose starting ambitions are at least temporarily on hold), Jonathan Broxton (assuming his elbow is sturdy) and Greg Holland.

Holland, a former tenth-round pick who never cracked top prospect lists in a loaded Royals system, looks like the best choice for high-leverage gun slinging. The 26-year-old righty whiffed 74 batters in 60 innings pitched last year, with a 2.21 Fielding Independent Pitching that sandwiched him between Mariano Rivera and Ryan Madson among relievers. Holland has mid-to-upper-90s heat that he uses to pound the zone (59% of his fastballs were over the plate, versus the 52% average for 'pen arms), but it's his wicked slider that gets the Ks.

Holland threw nearly as many sliders (44%) as fastballs (47%) in 2011. While sliders usually show a big platoon split, Holland's high-80s breaker was actually more effective against left-handed hitters (.108/.132/.135) than righties (.148/.197/.213). He tossed the slider for strikes against lefties, placing 55% of them in the zone...

Holland's slider location to lefty hitters, 2011

...And used it as more of a chase pitch versus righties, throwing just 40% in the zone....  

 Holland's slider location to righty hitters, 2011

Lefty or righty, it didn't matter: the pitch was whiff-tastic. Left-handers rarely connected with those sliders at the knees...

Lefty hitters' contact rate vs. Holland's slider, 2011

...And right-handers swung through those low-and-away sliders...

Righty hitters' contact rate vs. Holland's slider, 2011 

Both lefties (57% miss rate) and righties (55%) came up empty more than half of the time they swung at a Holland slider. The only relievers with a higher miss rate with the pitch were Joel Hanrahan, Al Alburquerque, Jordan Walden, Sergio Santos and Jonny Venters.

We'll have to see if Holland's slider-centric approach continues to keep lefties at bay and keep his own elbow from barking, but the late innings still look to be in good hands with Holland.