Daily Dose: Holland breaking out?

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Derek Holland entered Sunday at 4-7 with a 5.60 ERA in 82 innings, but hurled a complete-game shutout against the Angels, striking out eight with just one walk and three hits. Holland also had a near-complete game against the Mariners last week, striking out 10, walking one, and allowing two hits in 8.2 innings of one-run ball, so the 22-year-old southpaw may be on the verge of a sustained breakout.
According to Baseball America he was Texas’ second-best prospect behind only Neftali Feliz coming into the season and Holland has a strong 77/30 K/BB ratio in 91 innings. His biggest problem has been serving up 14 homers and keeping the ball in the ballpark could be a career-long struggle in Texas, but he induces quite a few grounders, misses plenty of bats with mid-90s heat, and has ace upside.
While the Rangers break in extremely promising young pitching during a pennant race, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Not only was Matt Palmer demoted to the bullpen last month despite going 8-1 in a dozen starts, he’s being passed over in favor of 22-year-old prospect Trevor Bell with the Angels needing a fill-in starter Wednesday versus the Rays. Palmer was nowhere near as good as his record suggests and has posted a putrid 55/42 K/BB ratio in 91.2 innings overall, but it’s still surprising to see Bell get the nod.
Bell is certainly a quality prospect and the former first-round pick has a 2.70 ERA in 22 starts between Double-A and Triple-A this season, but 87 strikeouts in 140 innings and a modest ground-ball rate make him highly unlikely to have that kind of success in the majors. He could have some AL-only value if he sticks around, but Tampa Bay is a very tough first assignment and his upside is limited.
* Junichi Tazawa’s big-league debut involved coming into a 0-0 game in the 14th inning and serving up a walk-off homer to Alex Rodriguez at Yankee Stadium, so replacing John Smoltz in the rotation Tuesday should be a relative piece of cake. Detroit is a favorable first matchup, because the Tigers rank 10th in the league in OPS against right-handers, but Tazawa isn’t a viable mixed-league option yet.
AL Quick Hits: Scott Kazmir failed to make it out of the fifth inning Sunday, giving up seven runs for the fourth time in 10 starts … Roy Halladay picked up his 12th win Sunday by tossing at least eight innings for the 10th time in 22 starts … Jake Westbrook had a setback in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery and is now unlikely to pitch this season … Michael Cuddyer went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers Sunday, giving him eight long balls since July 1 … Brian Matsutz had a rough second career outing Sunday, getting chased in the third inning … Marco Scutaro went 4-for-5 with a career-high 10th homer Sunday … Brett Cecil won’t make his next start after an MRI revealed two small tears in his left knee, but is hoping to avoid the disabled list … Jarrod Washburn struggled Sunday and has now allowed 11 runs in two Tigers starts … Brett Anderson has allowed just 13 runs in his last eight outings after another Quality Start on Sunday.
NL Quick Hits: Aaron Harang snapped a streak of seven straight losses Sunday by beating Matt Cain … Johan Santana is tied for the NL lead with 13 wins after throwing eight innings of one-run ball Sunday … Milwaukee acquired setup man David Weathers from Cincinnati for a player to be named later … Josh Johnson held the Phillies to one run over seven innings Sunday as the Marlins completed a three-game sweep … Wandy Rodriguez returned from a hamstring injury with seven shutout innings Sunday … Chris Coghlan extended his multi-hit streak to eight games with four knocks Sunday … Tim Stauffer lowered his ERA to 2.90 by allowing one run in five innings Sunday, but fell to 1-4 … Jason Hammel won Sunday despite surrendering 11 hits in five innings … Adam Rosales was 3-for-4 with a homer Sunday while subbing for Scott Rolen (concussion) … Aaron Cook will miss Tuesday’s start with turf toe, but hopes to take his turn Saturday.

Pirates’ Nick Leyva selected as senior advisor of baseball ops

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Coach Nick Leyva #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 17, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.

Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:

The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.

In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.

This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.

Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.

Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:

We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.

Lineups for Dodgers-Cubs NLCS Game 6

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game two of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.

Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.


1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
5. Josh Reddick (L) RF
6. Joc Pederson (L) CF
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Chase Utley (L) 2B
9. Clayton Kershaw (L) LHP
1. Dexter Fowler (S) CF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Ben Zobrist (R) LF
5. Javier Baez (S) 2B
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
7. Addison Russell (R) RF
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP