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Bud Black sticking with Greg Holland in closer’s role

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Rockies closer Greg Holland has had a rough go of it lately. He served up a walk-off three-run home run to Eric Hosmer on Wednesday, marking his third blown save in his last four attempts. Prior to Thursday’s game, the right-hander had given up 12 earned runs in his last five appearances, bumping his season ERA from 1.56 to 3.77. Holland gave up some hard contact on Thursday, but protected the Rockies’ 3-2 lead over the Royals.

Despite Holland’s recent struggles, manager Bud Black plans to stick with the veteran in the closer’s role, per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Black said, “We’ll talk about it, but my initial instinct is to keep Greg where he is. We wouldn’t be where we are without him, and he’s going through a bit of a tough stretch as far as making pitches.”

Black added, “His arm feels good. He still has confidence. We’ve got to get him to the point where he’s locating the slider, locating the fastball and getting that last out or making that last pitch to get the save. That’s been the case the last three times when he’s been one out away, one strike away, and just hasn’t executed that pitch.”

Through his August 4 appearance, Holland was 34-for-35 in save chances with a 53/18 K/BB ratio over 40 1/3 innings. His control over the last few weeks has disappeared and he hasn’t been missing bats at nearly the same frequency, as he has a 4/6 K/BB ratio in his last six innings of work.

If Holland’s struggles continue and Black is forced to make a change, Jake McGee or Pat Neshek would figure to get a shot at save situations.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.