The Kansas City Royals’ bullpen has been a shell of its former self. Imagine how much better things would have been this year had the Royals inked Greg Holland to a contract rather than letting him sign elsewhere.
As of June 11th, the Kansas City Royals are ranked 22nd in bullpen ERA with a 4.72 team average. In 2014, the first year that the Royals went to the World Series with their stellar bullpen, they were tenth in the league with a 3.30 ERA.
What am I getting at here, you ask? Well, a large reason why the Royals bullpen was so elite during that two-year stretch was because of the H-D-H trio. Greg Holland was the second H in that trio and the closer for the Royals, and the guy was absolute nails out of the pen.
Holland took over as the Royals closer in 2012, but became the best in the business by the 2013 season. That year saw him record 47 saves in 67 innings with a 1.21 ERA. The next year, he had 46 saves and a 1.44 ERA. Both seasons resulted in All-Star appearances for Holland.
The 2015 season was rough for Holland and eventually resulted in him landing on the disabled list. Wade Davis took over as closer and the rest is history. Holland would never close another game for the Kansas City Royals.
Shortly before spring training began for the 2017 season, Holland signed with the Colorado Rockies and he’s been absolutely dominant there. In 25 games so far this season, Holland has 23 saves and a sparkling 1.14 ERA. The former Royal has only surrendered three runs off of ten hits during his 23.2 innings of relief.
Buster Olney of ESPN wrote that Holland was the best free agent signing this past offseason, which is another heartache for Royals fans to have to read about because they could have had the guy on their squad.
Simply put – The Royals could have used Holland’s services this season. Kelvin Herrera is a good reliever, but he has not done all that well as a Major League closer. That makes seeing Greg Holland wheeling and dealing for the Rockies even more painful.
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If the Royals had signed Holland, it’s not even a sure thing that he’d have been their closer. He was coming off Tommy John surgery and sometimes pitchers don’t recover from that fully, so Herrera probably still would have gotten the job.
It still would have been nice to have the former All-Star closer in the bullpen though. Holland provided fans with two solid seasons of knowing that when the ninth inning came, the game was as good as over.
Holland and the Rockies are one of the more fun teams to watch so far this season. They’re 41-24 and in first place in the National League West and will square off against the KC Royals at the end of August at the K.
Even with Greg Holland, the offense still would have been off to a poor start so it’s not as if the record would be all that much better than it is now. With how shaky the bullpen has been this season, however, having Holland around would be a breath of fresh air for sure.
What’s even more painful is that the Kansas City Royals could have still had the entire H-D-H trio this season. It was just not meant to be I guess.