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San Francisco Giants: Derek Holland emerging as useful bullpen option

SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 29: Derek Holland #45 of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park March 29, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 29: Derek Holland #45 of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park March 29, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Giants relegated Derek Holland to the bullpen after a rough start in the rotation. He has quietly emerged as a useful reliever of late.

Veteran left-hander Derek Holland quietly turned in a solid season for the San Francisco Giants in 2018, posting a 3.57 ERA in 171.1 innings of work. That was enough to earn him a new one-year, $7 million deal that includes a club option for 2020 during the offseason.

His 2019 campaign got off to a rocky start, to say the least.

The 32-year-old lasted just seven starts before he was relegated to the bullpen, with the final straw coming on May 9 when he was shelled for seven hits and seven earned runs in 2.2 innings against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

At the time of the demotion, he had put together the following line:

  • 7 GS, 1-4, 6.75 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 5.2 BB/9, 10.9 K/9, 34.2 IP, .260 BAA

Since moving to the bullpen, his numbers have been vastly improved:

  • 17 G, 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 8.2 K/9, 22.0 IP, .235 BAA

In his last 10 appearances, he has a stellar 0.68 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, and he’s allowed a paltry .156/.216/.200 line to opposing hitters in 13.1 innings of action.

The San Francisco Giants front office could have simply cut their losses and designated him for assignment after his early struggles.

Instead, they slotted him in the bullpen, and it’s starting to pay dividends.

While it seems unlikely that the team would consider returning him to the rotation at this point, he has proven to be a valuable multi-inning option, even if he’s not pitching in high-leverage, late-inning situation.

It’s hard to say if he’s done enough to warrant exercising his $7 million option for next year, which comes with a $500,000 buyout, and odds are he prefers to start going forward.

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For now, the San Francisco Giants have stumbled on an unlikely source of quality innings out of the bullpen.

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