In what seemed like a pretty routine move for a struggling starter, the Giants shifted left-hander Derek Holland from the rotation to the bullpen on Saturday night. His next scheduled start, a home game against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, will be handled by right-hander Tyler Beede.
Holland didn’t take the news in stride; on the contrary, he had some pointed remarks to make about the move and those who might have called for it. Per MLB.com’s Maria Guardado:
“To be honest, I have no idea what they’re doing,” he told reporters Saturday. “And I don’t mean that by [Bruce Bochy] and them, it’s more for the front office. We keep changing things. I get a fake injury, so I’m not happy about that. But at the end of the day, I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do.”
Those implications didn’t sit well with members of the front office, including president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi:
“He had a finger issue that he had back in spring training. It flared up. We got an MRI. He felt he could continue pitching. We felt it would be prudent to give him the time off. The decision was collaboratively made. We have extensive medical records of it. His use of the word ‘fake’ probably comes from him feeling he could continue to pitch with it. Players and the staff and front office people sometimes have differences of opinion when they should or shouldn’t play.”
Whether or not Holland was fit to pitch through what, at the time, was termed a ‘bone bruise’ may be beside the point (though, as NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic commented on Saturday, the pitcher’s dissatisfaction has been shared by several of his teammates for a while now). So far this season, his numbers have significantly regressed from the 3.57 ERA and 2.2 fWAR he contributed to the club in 2018. Entering Sunday’s finale against the Reds — for which he’ll be available to pitch out of the bullpen — the lefty holds a 1-4 record through seven starts with a 6.75 ERA, 5.2 BB/9, and 10.9 SO/9 across 34 2/3 innings. During his most recent outing, a 12-11 loss to the Rockies on Thursday, he issued a season-worst seven runs, four walks, and two strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings.
His performance is far from the only problem plaguing the Giants’ rotation. Earlier on Saturday, they optioned Dereck Rodríguez to Triple-A Sacramento, a move that wasn’t wholly unexpected after the right-hander worked up to a 5.05 ERA, 3.7 BB/9, and 6.1 SO/9 in his first eight appearances of 2019. With both Holland and Rodríguez ineffective and unavailable for the time being, the team might turn to some combination of Triple-A starters Ty Blach, Andrew Suarez, and Shaun Anderson to fill the gaps in the rotation next week, though any formal announcements (and subsequent roster moves) have yet to be made.