Which Non-Roster Invitee Could Make the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day Roster?
By Marty Leap
Left-handed pitcher Derek Holland
In addition to Erlin, the Pirates also signed veteran left-handed pitcher Derek Holland last week. Like Erlin, Holland was signed to a minor league contract. While Holland could be in competition for the team’s fifth starter, it makes more sense to give those starts to Chad Kuhl, so, odds are, Holland will also work out of the bullpen.
After a tremendous 2018 season that saw Holland post a 3.57 ERA, 3.87 FIP and a 2.2 fWAR in 36 appearances (30 starts) for the San Francisco Giants, he fell off a cliff in 2019. After being designated for assignment by the Giants, he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs. Overall, he posted a 6.08 ERA, 6.10 FIP, and a -1.0 fWAR in 51 games (8 starts) between the Giants and Cubs.
For his career Holland owns a 4.54 ERA and a 4.53 FIP in 295 games, 222 of which were starts. Holland has also struggled mightily against right-handed hitters in recent seasons, which may make his best role moving forward as a LOOGY which is a dying need out of a bullpen with the new minimum batters rule.
Unlike Erlin, Holland making the Opening Day roster is not as much of a slam dunk. Between his recent struggles, inability to retire right-handed hitters with any sort of consistency, and his lack of any quality pitches, the team may be better off giving a young pitcher such as Geoff Hartlieb or Clay Holmes a bullpen spot over Holland.
That said, Holland will undoubtedly be in contention for a roster spot until the end of Spring Training.