Holland’s Gem

Last night in Arlington, Derek Holland threw the game of his life.  With the Rangers down 2-1 in the series, Holland threw 8 1/3 shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out seven along the way.

He went after the Cardinal hitters with five different pitches: a sinking two-seam fastball that he used as his primary heater yesterday, a straighter four-seam fastball, a tight curve, a slider, and a changeup.  The table below shows the pitch breakdown, along with average pitch speeds, for his 116-pitch masterpiece.

           #     mph
Sinker    40     94.2
Fastball  32     94.7
Slider    24     76.6
Curveball 15     83.9
Changeup  5      85.5

Speaking of pitch speed, Holland was able to throw smoke both early and late.  He took his foot off the pedal a little bit during the middle innings, but kicked it up again once he sensed the finish line:

Returning to pitch selection for a moment: facing a righty-heavy lineup (only six of Holland’s pitches were against lefties), Holland only used a handful of changeups and instead relied on his slider as his primary strikeout pitch.

“Behind” is for 3-0, 3-1, and 2-0 counts.

Of the 19 balls put in play against Holland on Sunday night, 13 of them were on the ground.  7 of those grounders were courtesy of his two-seam fastball, which yielded a total of 10 outs on the night.  Holland also garnered nine swinging strikes in his start: one apiece on his two-seamer and four-seamer, two on his slider, and five on his curve.

Holland’s performance produced a Game Score of 84, the highest mark in any World Series game since Josh Beckett also had an 84 in his Game 6 win against the Yankees in 2003.  On a day where the Rangers desperately needed a win, they got a huge performance from one of their underperforming starters.

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11 years ago

I thought that sliders and sinkers typically have a bad platoon split against opposite handed batters. I’ve heard that lefty pitchers have less of a platoon split with their pitches, but even still, it seems like a strange pitch selection strategy to go with. I’m just curious why his slider and sinker were so effective.