Derek Holland Impresses in Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Debut
By Marty Leap
Veteran left-handed pitcher Derek Holland made his Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training debut on Sunday afternoon and it was an impressive one
After some split squad action on Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates have now played three Grapefruit League games. Despite owning a 0-3 record thus far, not that team records matter in Spring Training, there have been positives to come out of these three games for the Pirates. One of these positives was the performance of veteran left-handed pitcher Derek Holland on Sunday.
In his Pirate Spring Training debut, Holland allowed 2 earned runs in 1.2 innings of work against the Detroit Tigers. He did not walk a batter, allowed just three hits, he mixed in all of his pitches, and he struck out five Tiger batters. Other than a lead off home run that was hit by former Pirate farmhand Jacoby Jones, Holland consistently his his spots and did not allowed any hard contact.
Holland was signed to a minor league contract that he can opt out of if he does not make the team’s Opening Day roster. Holland will compete with Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault for the team’s fifth and final rotation spot. If he does not earn a spot in the rotation, he could still earn a spot in the bullpen. Although, the opportunity for him to select free agency will always be there.
The start Holland turned in on Sunday afternoon was a good first step toward earning the final spot in the Pirates’ starting rotation. With his veteran experience, he may have already been the favorite to land the final starting spot.
Kuhl and Brault also pitched on Sunday. Kuhl pitched 2 innings in a simulated game in Bradenton, while Brault relieved Holland. In his outing Brault needed just eight pitches to retire the Tigers in order.
One pitcher that is locked into the team’s Opening Day starting rotation is Trevor Williams. Pitching against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater Williams allowed 4 runs in the 1st inning, before pitching a scoreless 2nd inning. Williams day ended with him allowing 4 runs on four hits, a walk and failing to record a strikeout in his 2 innings of work.
After quietly being one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the National League during a 64 stretch from May 2017 through May 2019 in which he posted a 3.35 ERA and a 3.75 FIP, Williams was shelled to the tune of a 6.58 ERA and a 6.14 FIP in 17 starts after returning from the injured list last season. In 2020, Williams will be looking to get back to the pitcher he was during that strong 64 start stretch.