The good Derek Holland showed up last night

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Derek Holland pitched his second straight shutout last night, helping the Rangers to a 5-0 win over the Mariners. In fact, it was his third shutout in his last eight starts. He has more shutouts this season than Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and Clayton Kershaw.

But the man is not consistent.  In between shutout number one and shutout number two he had a stretch of five starts, four of which were pretty bad, one of which was a win, though not a particularly impressive one.  Before that first shutout there were a lot of crooked numbers too. On the year he has a 4.32 ERA and has allowed 125 hits and has walked 42 guys in 118 innings.

I’m fascinated when guys go on runs like this.  Is he as good as he looks when he’s good? Is he as bad as he looks when he’s bad?  Are the recent good performances a sign that something has clicked and we’re about to see a Cliff Lee-style career pivot?  Or are we really seeing the games we’ll point to a couple of years from now when we say “look, he always had potential, but …”

Maybe it’s a less-than-deep thought, but I’m sitting here right now, just marveling over the fact that we’ve been playing organized baseball for for close to 150 years and we still really have no idea about how pitching works. Or at least why some guys put it together and some don’t. At least not until after they’ve either succeeded and failed and we give our post-hoc explanations.

What’s Derek Holland gonna do?  I have no idea. And I think that’s pretty neat.