Washington Nationals: Greg Holland salvaged season and possibly career

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 17: Greg Holland #56 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on August 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 17: Greg Holland #56 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on August 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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The last 2018 Report Card covered a reliever who disappointed, this time we look at one who the Washington Nationals helped to resurrect in Greg Holland.

The Washington Nationals bullpen seemed to be a revolving door for most of the season, with so many players pitching inconsistently. In this 2018 report card, we look at one of the more stable presences in Greg Holland.

Despite being brought in on the league minimum after completely bombing out with the St. Louis Cardinals, he had a new lease of life in Washington. He signed for $14 million late in free agency with the Cards before he was jettisoned at the start of August, and then the Nats scooped him up.

Before he signed in D.C. the right-hander had an unsightly 7.92 ERA and a 2.240 WHIP in 31 appearances. But then he flipped the script with a 0.84 ERA and a 0.891 WHIP with the Nationals. What a turnaround.

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The Positives for Holland

I don’t think there are enough positives to fit into just one article, but we’re gonna try. The noticeable improvement in his stats was the contact rate against him, which dived down from 73.8 percent to 65.7 percent after joining the Nationals. He also dropped his contact percentage inside the zone from 87.9 percent all the way down to 77.0 percent, as it appeared as if his stuff played better after the move.

A lot of this dip in contact is due to Greg Holland being able to use his slider much better. Based on FanGraphs Pitch Value, his slider went from a -2.1 value with the Cardinals to a 5.8 value with the Nats. He did this by focusing on getting his slider down and away, mostly out of the zone. If you compare his slider’s heatmap from his time with the Cards, to the same heatmap with the Nats, you notice how much the pitch leaked over the plate in St. Louis. The swings and misses followed and were a big reason he turned his season around.

Areas for Improvement

Now, while the high-level stats indicate a dramatic turnaround, there is still a bit of cause for concern. His BABIP went from one extreme to the other during the season, as he had a .379 figure pitching for the Cards, but also had an unsustainable .186 mark for the Nationals. In theory, he should settle somewhere in the middle of the two, which lend towards performance in line with his FIP of 3.83.

You can also be a little picky in that his walk rate was still far from ideal after signing in the nation’s capital. His 4.2 BB/9 was relatively still high when the league average for relievers sits at just 3.5 BB/9. This is hardly a huge flaw and is also a massive improvement on the 7.9 BB/9 rate that he had in St. Louis, but it would be nice if he could reign in the walks a little.

The Final Grade

It was certainly a season of two halves for Greg Holland, who you could argue looked like he may struggle to find another job with his performance to start the season. But after the turnaround, many Nats fans are hoping they can bring back the former closer to help the dire bullpen situation.

When dishing out a grade for the reliever, we’re only interested in his stint with the Nationals. Therefore, that makes this pretty easy, as he’s the first player to achieve top marks in our report card series. A+

. RP. Washington Nationals. GREG HOLLAND. A+

Next. Kelvin Herrera - 2018 Report Card. dark

Remember to keep an eye out for more Washington Nationals 2018 Report Cards during the upcoming weeks here at District on Deck.

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