Daily Dose: Holland breaking out?

Leave a comment

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.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.