Greg Holland of the Kansas City Royals has been one of the most dominant closers in the game in the last two and a half seasons, and with another scoreless outing and converted save on Thursday, Holland now has a 0.90 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while converting 7 of 8 saves opportunities on the year. He’s on his way to another incredible season, right? Well, maybe not.
Despite that 0.90 ERA, Holland has a SIERA that is an incredible 4 runs higher at 4.90. In case you don’t know what I am referring to, SIERA stands for “Skill Interactive ERA” and it is a modern analytic statistic that is designed to measure how a pitcher has done as an individual in regards to the things that he can control (strikeouts, walks, home runs allowed), as opposed to ERA measuring what actually happened which is inclusive of balls in play and defense (things out of a pitcher’s control). SIERA is a better statistical measurement of a pitcher’s future performance. Read more about it here.
So what is going on with Holland that we need to worry about? The most important thing to know about is his decline in fastball velocity. For the last three seasons, Holland has been one of the hardest throwers in the game averaging around 96 MPH with his heater, but this year it’s all the way down to 93.5 MPH on the young season according to PITCHf/x data. That’s a pretty big decline that is surely the primary factor in his strikeout rate sitting at a paltry 5.40 K/9 on the season — nowhere close to the 13.02 K/9 he had from 2012-14. Holland is also fortunate to have just a .154 BABIP, despite hitters not making hard contact off him this year. That’s a number that is surely to rise a lot, and if he still isn’t striking out batters when it does, then his ERA is going to be looking more like what his current SIERA is.
However, there is some hope for a turnaround soon. Holland missed about 3 weeks earlier this season due to a pectoral injury. So it is possible that injury is still hampering him and could be the reason for his diminished velocity. But conversely, if that’s the case, then it could be an injury that lingers even further into the season and he will be getting hit hard because of it.
We’ll have to wait and see what developments (or non-developments) occur over the next couple of weeks, but for now Royals setup man Wade Davis needs to be owned in most fantasy leagues. Davis has yet to allow a run this year and he was a perfect 6 for 6 in save opportunities during Holland’s absence on the DL.