After an injury this spring cost him a spot in the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation, Holland has seemed to regain his form in the minors.
While filling in for an injured teammate, he’ll try to carry that over into his season debut and help the Rangers avoid a sixth straight home loss to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.
Holland went 8-13 with a 6.12 ERA in 2009 but had a 10.19 ERA while dropping six of seven starts to conclude his rookie season.
The left-hander said his changeup wasn’t effective over those final starts as he tried to experiment with throwing a slider and a curve.
He’s been sticking with the slider more lately while going 4-1 with a 0.93 ERA in six starts at Oklahoma City. He also has 37 strikeouts and seven walks over 38 2-3 innings with the RedHawks.
“He was known for having a great changeup, but he lost his feel for it,” manager Ron Washington told the team’s website. “Supposedly, he got it back.”
A sprained knee played a big part in Holland starting this season in Triple-A, but he’s been given an opportunity to return to the majors with Matt Harrison(notes) going on the disabled list (left biceps tendinitis).
“I’m trying to do my best to (stay in the rotation),” he said. “That’s how it always is. If you get the opportunity, you better take advantage of it.”
The Rangers (18-15) are hoping a strong effort from Holland will help them get back in the win column following a 7-6 loss in 13 innings to the A’s on Tuesday night.
“It was one of those games where whoever came out on top was going to feel pretty good and the other team’s going to think about it for a while,” manager Bob Geren said. “We’ve seem to have a ton of games like that against Texas, especially in this ballpark.”
The A’s will try to take the lead in the division and win four straight for the second time this season behind Gio Gonzalez(notes) (3-2, 3.53), who hasn’t allowed a run in 9 2-3 career innings against the Rangers.
That includes a 6-0 home victory Aug. 4 in which the left-hander struck out seven and threw a three-hitter over 6 2-3 innings. Holland was on the wrong end of that game in his only career start against Oakland, but it was Gonzalez who suffered a hard-luck defeat Friday despite a third straight quality outing.
The left-hander allowed three runs over seven innings and struck out seven, but Oakland fell 4-1 to visiting Tampa Bay.
While going for their sixth consecutive win in Texas, the A’s are also trying for their fourth overall victory this year over the Rangers. They won two of three at home against Texas on May 3-5.