Buy or Sell: Derek Holland

I’ve always liked Holland. His strikeout and walk rates were very good in the minor leagues on top of a mid-90s heater from the left side, that’s a recipe for success. However, his transition to the Rangers rotation hasn’t gone as smooth as he’d like. Holland posted a 4.08 ERA last season, making ten starts with a 2.3 K/BB rate. His 8.5 K/9 rate from 2010 gave us a glimpse of his upside down the line, but strikeouts haven’t come with such frequency this season, as his K/9 currently sits at 6.6.

One thing that has really helped Holland lately is the progression in his velocity. Looking at his velocity chart at FanGraphs, we can see that Holland has improved his velocity at a steady pace throughout the season. The increasing velocity on his fastball seems to have made his slider more effective as the whiff rate on that pitch has jumped from about 12 percent from April through June to about twenty percent from July to August.

Holland’s home/road splits are intriguing. He has a 5.10 ERA at home and a 3.42 ERA on the road. His BABIP at home (.340) is 70 points higher that on the road (.270). Funny thing is, Holland has given up six more home runs on the road and, according to slits stats at FanGraphs, has allowed a higher line drive rate (21 percent) on the road than at home (17.5 percent). Both splits seem due to even out, making it reasonable to expect an ERA somewhere in the 3.80-3.90 range with upside for more.

Holland has always had the pure stuff to be a solid fantasy starter and now, it seems, he’s beginning to put it all together. I’m buying him as a mixed league starter for the rest of the season.