Why not Derek Holland in Game 7?

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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.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.