Thursday’s rainout put manager Ron Washington in a tough spot for his Game 7 starter: should he go with the guy he lined up for the outing, Matt Harrison, or the pitcher who looked far better in his one go against the Cardinals so far, Derek Holland?
Holland’s inconsistency is well noted. He finished tied with James Shields for the AL lead with four shutouts this season, yet his overall 3.95 ERA doesn’t match up to Harrison’s 3.39 mark. Still, Holland was the Rangers’ choice to start Game 2 in both the ALDS and ALCS before his struggles got him pushed back in the World Series rotation.
Holland, of course, threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals in his Game 4 victory. Harrison gave up five runs — three earned — in 3 2/3 innings in losing Game 3.
Washington has already settled on Harrison for the possible Game 7. Here’s to hoping he did actually go and reevaluate the choice and not just make that call because that’s the way he set up the rotation in the first place. It’s certainly a defensible decision.
Holland had five starts during the regular season in which he went at least eight innings and allowed no more than one run. Here’s how he followed those up:
May 24: 4 ER in 4 IP vs. White Sox
June 9: 4 ER in 7 1/3 IP vs. Twins
July 14: 0 ER in 9 IP vs. Mariners
July 20: 7 ER in 5 1/3 IP vs. Angels
Aug. 5: 4 ER in 1 2/3 IP vs. Indians
Holland turned in back-to-back shutouts on July 7 & 14, but that surrounded the All-Star break and he was working on six days’ rest. Even including that outing, he had a 6.26 ERA in his five starts immediately after his best outings of the season.
If it were my call, I’d start Holland anyway. He’s more likely than Harrison to have a dominant outing, and if he doesn’t have it — something that’s usually clear pretty early when it comes to Holland — he can be yanked quickly. Harrison, though, is quite a bit better than he showed in Game 3, and he’ll probably give the Rangers five or six solid innings if allowed to do so.
The other plus in going with Harrison is that it allows the Rangers to put Holland in the bullpen for Game 6 tonight. And if things go well tonight, the Rangers won’t be needing a Game 7 starter anyway.