Derek Holland
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Giants move Derek Holland to the bullpen

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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.

Dodgers upset with Héctor Neris after Thursday’s game

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July hasn’t treated Phillies closer Héctor Neris well. Entering Thursday, he had allowed runs in three of his last four appearances, blowing two saves in the process. His struggles continued as he allowed a two-out solo home run to Alex Verdugo in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday afternoon, closing the deficit to 7-6. Thankfully for the Phillies, he was able to get the final out, getting Justin Turner to fly out to right field. An excited Neris looked into the Dodgers’ dugout and yelled an expletive.

The four-game series between the Dodgers and Phillies had quite some drama. After Matt Beaty hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday, Neris threw a pitch at the next batter, David Freese, seemingly in frustration. Neris was suspended three games. He appealed his punishment, which is why he’s been allowed to pitch. In the fourth inning of Thursday’s game, Max Muncy and Beaty stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle on consecutive plays. That, along with his own struggles, explains why Neris might’ve been amped up after closing out the ballgame.

The Dodgers were, understandably, not happy about Neris yelling at them. Several players shouted back, including Clayton Kershaw and Russell Martin. An unamused Muncy glared at Neris. Martin suggested to Neris that they meet in the hallway.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the game, “I think we played this series the right way, played it straight. To look in our dugout and to taunt in any way, I think it’s unacceptable. Look in your own dugout.”

Muncy said, “He’s blown about eight saves against us over the last two years. I guess he was finally excited he got one. Whatever.”

Neris attributed his outburst to emotions, saying, “It’s a great win for my team and just I let my emotion get out.”

In baseball, everyone is pro-showing-emotion when it’s himself and his teammates, and against when it’s players on the other team. Muncy got into a back-and-forth with Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after flipping his bat and watching his long home run at Oracle Park last month. Bumgarner jawed at him and Muncy said, “I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.”

Neris, however, is the last guy on the Phillies who should be antagonizing the Dodgers after his terrible decision to throw at Freese, not to mention his overall poor performance against them. The Phillies were pigs in mud who wanted to wrestle and the Dodgers jumped in with them for some reason. Thankfully, the two teams are done playing each other for the rest of the regular season.