I'm sure that this has been a frustrating season for Derek Holland, as injuries kept him from truly fighting from a rotation spot in spring training, yanked him out of the rotation on May, and kept him from a regular turn until August 28. August 28 was perilously close to the end of the season, but the reality is that things have actually worked out pretty well for Holland.
Back at the start of the season, I wrote that Oklahoma City was the ideal starting place for Holland, because he would be able to put fewer and less stressful innings on him arm early. That slow start would give him a better opportunity to be a key player for the team in September and in the playoffs. Elbow and knee injuries made that slow start less important, but they only reinforced the fact that Holland had the opportunity to be fresh late in the year when C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis - neither of whom having ever experienced a full year of starting in the major leagues - tired from carrying the team all season.
I have maintained all season through those injuries and setbacks that Holland was a top candidate for the postseason rotation this year, not just in th future. Has that possibility become a reality?
Looking at the past three turns in the rotation, who has the best chance to go out and beat the Yankees?
C.J. Wilson (Wilson had two unbelievable starts prior to these three) - 177 IP on the season
5.1 IP | 7 H | 6 ER | 0 HR | 4 BB | 5 K
7.2 IP | 2 H | 0 ER | 0 HR | 4 BB | 6 K
6.0 IP | 7 H | 2 ER | 0 HR | 2 BB | 6 K
Colby Lewis - 170.2 IP
3.2 IP | 8 H | 9 ER | 2 HR | 2 BB | 2 K
5.2 IP | 8 H | 5 ER | 2 HR | 3 BB | 7 K
6.1 IP | 7 H | 3 ER | 0 HR | 0 BB | 2 K
Derek Holland - 105.1 IP
5.0 IP | 3 H | 0 ER | 0 HR | 3 BB | 8 K
6.1 IP | 6 H | 4 ER | 0 HR | 1 BB | 5 K
4.1 IP | 3 H | 1 ER | 0 HR | 3 BB | 2 K
Tommy Hunter - 132.2 IP
7.0 IP | 7 H | 7 ER | 3 HR | 2 BB | 4 K
5.2 IP | 7 H | 2 ER | 1 HR | 4 BB | 3 K
7.2 IP | 7 H | 3 ER | 2 HR | 2 BB | 4 K
With Wednesday's start, even with a shaky start earlier in August as he was rushed back to the majors, Holland's xFIP is over a half run better than Hunter's and is nearing Wilson's and Lewis'.
I would argue that Holland is in fact starting to look like one of the four starters (Cliff Lee of course being the first guy) who do give them that chance.