Greg Holland struggled in St. Louis in 2018, putting up a 7.92 ERA, a 4.56 FIP, 22 walks, and 22 Ks in 25 innings before the Cardinals, who’d signed him to a 1-year/$14M deal, released the right-handed reliever. Holland then signed with the Washington Nationals, putting up a 0.84 ERA, a 2.97 FIP, 10 walks, and 25 Ks in 21 1⁄3 IP down the stretch.
So, when the 2019 Nationals’ bullpen got off to a horrendous start to the season, GM Mike Rizzo was asked, in a May interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies, why he did not try to bring Holland back.
“People forget Holland was a guy we picked up mid-season last year and made him from a player that the Cardinals released, making a lot of money, to a very valuable pitcher for us down the stretch,” Rizzo explained.
“He was a guy that we talked to, we tried to sign, we just couldn’t get it done.”
Holland ended up taking a 1-year/$3.5M free agent deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but after the 33-year-old, nine-year veteran put up a 4.54 ERA, a 4.76 FIP, 24 walks, and 41 Ks in 35 2⁄3 IP, saving 17 games, the D-backs released him this week, and according to a report by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier this afternoon, the Nationals are working on a deal to bring the reliever back for another run in the nation’s capital if he can show he still has something left.
Nats are making progress toward a deal with reliever Greg Holland, per a source. Would be a Minor League deal— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) August 12, 2019
Holland posted a 2.33 ERA and a .151/.255/.312 line against in his first 28 games and 27 IP in the D-backs’ bullpen, but after back-to-back blown saves against the Los Angeles Dodgers in early July, he’s had an 11.42 ERA (11 ER in 8 2⁄3 IP) and a .333/.478/.515 line against in his last 12 appearances.
Before he was designated for assignment and then released, the Diamondbacks moved him out of the closer’s role, hoping that working in lower leverage situations would help him get back on track, as manager Torey Lovullo explained, as quoted by MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert:
“We thought it would take some pressure off him, but it didn’t get better,” Lovullo said. “It was just the command, not being able to land pitches or get big outs at times. Those are the things that we have to pay attention to, especially at this time of year, [when] we have a lot of young pitchers that we’re excited about and we want to get a look at them and we feel like they can come in at some meaningful moments and help us win some baseball games. Trust me, it was a very difficult decision.”
Will Holland bounce back with the Nationals again down the stretch? Since he’s a free agent and will only cost the Nats, “... a prorated portion of the minimum salary for the remainder of the season,” as MLBTraderumors.com noted last week, he’s worth the risk to see what he has left.