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Why not Derek Holland in Game 7?

Oct 27, 2011, 2:50 PM EDT

Derek Holland Reuters

Thursday’s rainout put manager Ron Washington in a tough spot for his Game 7 starter: should he go with the guy he lined up for the outing, Matt Harrison, or the pitcher who looked far better in his one go against the Cardinals so far, Derek Holland?

Holland’s inconsistency is well noted. He finished tied with James Shields for the AL lead with four shutouts this season, yet his overall 3.95 ERA doesn’t match up to Harrison’s 3.39 mark. Still, Holland was the Rangers’ choice to start Game 2 in both the ALDS and ALCS before his struggles got him pushed back in the World Series rotation.

Holland, of course, threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals in his Game 4 victory. Harrison gave up five runs — three earned — in 3 2/3 innings in losing Game 3.

Washington has already settled on Harrison for the possible Game 7. Here’s to hoping he did actually go and reevaluate the choice and not just make that call because that’s the way he set up the rotation in the first place. It’s certainly a defensible decision.

Holland had five starts during the regular season in which he went at least eight innings and allowed no more than one run. Here’s how he followed those up:

May 24: 4 ER in 4 IP vs. White Sox
June 9: 4 ER in 7 1/3 IP vs. Twins
July 14: 0 ER in 9 IP vs. Mariners
July 20: 7 ER in 5 1/3 IP vs. Angels
Aug. 5: 4 ER in 1 2/3 IP vs. Indians

Holland turned in back-to-back shutouts on July 7 & 14, but that surrounded the All-Star break and he was working on six days’ rest. Even including that outing, he had a 6.26 ERA in his five starts immediately after his best outings of the season.

If it were my call, I’d start Holland anyway. He’s more likely than Harrison to have a dominant outing, and if he doesn’t have it — something that’s usually clear pretty early when it comes to Holland — he can be yanked quickly. Harrison, though, is quite a bit better than he showed in Game 3, and he’ll probably give the Rangers five or six solid innings if allowed to do so.

The other plus in going with Harrison is that it allows the Rangers to put Holland in the bullpen for Game 6 tonight. And if things go well tonight, the Rangers won’t be needing a Game 7 starter anyway.

  1. cur68 - Oct 27, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Wash has shown how loyal he is already. From the way he dealt with Holland to Torrealba catching to his statements to the effect that loyalty is a big deal with him. He’ll give Harrison the start. It makes sense to do so. Harrison was badly victimized by the wide Marquez strike zone, and by a blown call which arguably rattled him and certainly led to a lot of runs. That kind of lightening is unlikely to strike twice. Mostly though, I do not see Washington slighting his pitcher by taking the start away and giving it to a guy who struggles following a big game (if it even comes to a game 7).

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 27, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Let him sit game 7 out. He should instead work on making his own breakfast cereal, “Holland Oats.”

    • purnellmeagrejr - Oct 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      and the Phillies should make Hunter Pence Captain – and Julius Peppers should buy the rights to Julius Erving’s nickname.

  3. paperlions - Oct 27, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    First, there is a good chance they win tonight, why bother anouncing a chance at starter that might not matter? That is just good player ego management.

    Second, have we learned nothing about sample size? Seriously.

    • Ari Collins - Oct 27, 2011 at 5:49 PM

      Seriously. Sample size, sample size, sample size.

  4. purnellmeagrejr - Oct 27, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Yeah, you can’t do that to Harrison – to change would be a team wrecker.

  5. drmonkeyarmy - Oct 27, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    I would go with Harrison. It is my belief that he gives the team the best chance to win. While Holland might have the better chance at being “dominant”, there is an equal chance that he gets lit up. You can’t have your pitcher getting lit up in a game 7. Not a chance worth taking in my opinion.

  6. proudlycanadian - Oct 27, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    WHAT GAME 7?

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