The Diamondbacks have announced that Greg Holland will serve as the team’s official closer to start the season. That comes as a bit of a surprise as Holland pitched just 3 2/3 innings this spring, yielding five runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
Archie Bradley was considered to be the favorite to be the closer. However, as The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan notes, Bradley will still pitch in high-leverage situations. Closers aren’t always pitching in the toughest spots or against the most fearsome part of the opposing lineup, so the titles don’t mean a whole lot in today’s game outside of contract negotiations and arbitration hearings.
Holland, 33, signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the D-Backs on February 1. He split last season between the Cardinals and Nationals, posting an aggregate 4.66 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 26 walks in 46 1/3 innings.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.