Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:
Daily Fantasy

Sleeper Sleuth: Holland is Texas’ latest master of disguise

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

View photo



Tucked away in the northwest corner of mainland Europe is Holland, a region stereotyped for its amalgam of tulip parks, delectable cheeses, iconic windmills, wooden shoes and fashionable head-napkins. Surprisingly, it's also known for having strong ties to American sports. Former Bills tight end Jay Riemersma, Hall of Fame inductee Bert Blyleven and 7-foot-4 paint patroller Rik Smits are just a few names with a direct Netherlands connection.

Though Texas starter Derek Holland is associated with the locale in surname only, he could soon acquire a moniker that will forever identify him with the Land of Earless Painters, "The Firing Dutchman." {YSP:MORE}

Two short years ago, Holland, the 25th-round pick in the 2006 draft, was anointed by Baseball America as one of the elite pitching prospects in the Rangers system, and all of professional baseball. Composed, deceptive and confident, the southpaw had the necessary tools to achieve stardom. Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, plus slider, curve and change, he ascended quickly through the minors, making his Texas debut in early 2009. Predictably, inconsistent outings became sizable potholes along the youngster's big league path, souring his value. As he toggled between the rotation and bullpen, occasional brilliance was offset by ERA black-eyes. An unhealthy combination of walks (3.77 BB/9 in '10) and fly-balls (42.7 FB%) turned many owners off.

But as the Rangers galloped toward the World Series a year ago, Holland quietly gained a new following. Despite winning just one turn, he posted a respectable 3.67 ERA and punched out a batter per inning in six September starts. More importantly, in order to keep the ball down in the zone, he dialed back the heat, showcasing increased confidence in his slider and change. The result: a sensational 1.46 GB/FB.

This spring, the 24-year-old has made it a top priority to carry over the same approach. From

The changeup will give him a third pitch to go with a slider and fastball. He had all three pitches working in the summer of 2009, when he went 6-2 with a 3.35 ERA in eight starts and three relief appearances. That remains his best stretch as a Major League pitcher.

Once his best pitch, the change has eluded him much of the time since then. He started getting it up and Major League hitters clobbered it. He fell into a two-pitch trap and, even then, the slider wasn't that good. He needs the changeup.

"I'm very happy with the slider," Holland said. "I'd like to increase the velocity on it, but I'm more focused on keeping the changeup down. That's the biggest thing."

His delivery is more power-packed and streamlined without extraneous motion, or as Maddux said, "A full-body commitment to the [catcher's] glove."

Though his spring sample size is practically infinitesimal (14 IP), he's continued to display marked poise and resilience when faced with adversity, drawing ample weak contact (2.11 GB/FB) while missing bats (12:3 K:BB). If that personality carries over into the regular season, he could be this year's Colby Lewis.

Neftali Feliz's likely transition from closer-to-starter and Brandon Webb's eventual return certainly muddies the picture. Holland, despite his marvelous Cactus League performance, could be subjugated to long relief. But, even if Feliz gets the ball every fifth day and Webb's shoulder doesn't disintegrate, it's possible the lefty will be Texas' rotation caboose in the near or immediate future. Tommy Hunter and Matt Harrison aren't nearly as talented.

Because of his refined delivery, determination, considerable run support and pedigree, the 11-percent owned Holland is a deep-league fantasy trip worth taking.

Fearless Forecast: 162.1 IP, 12 W, 3.88 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 149 K


Image courtesy of Getty

Win cash prizes, pick a fantasy roster for just one day, join in minutes!

Learn how to play

Contest Entries Entry Fee Prizes Starts (EDT)
NFL $750K Baller 27893/85227 $10 $750000 Sunday 1:00 PM Enter
NFL $1 Single Entry 50/50 [Top 2,500 Win] 2035/5000 $1 $4500 Sunday 1:00 PM Enter
NFL $100K Tournament [$10K to 1st] 2026/4545 $25 $100000 Sunday 1:00 PM Enter
View Comments (0)