Kansas City Royals: What fans should expect from Greg Holland in 2020

The Kansas City Royals have signed their former closer to a minor league contract. Greg Holland has also been invited to compete for a roster spot next month at Spring Training.

The contract is reported to be worth $1.25 million if Greg Holland makes the 25-man roster and an additional $1.125 million in incentives. One of incentives can be linked to how many innings the Kansas City Royals can get out of the 34 year-old that was drafted in the tenth round by the Royals in 2007.

As a Royal from 2010-2015, Holland closed 145 games to place him fourth on the Royals all-time list for saves. Late in the 2015 season, Holland suffered a season ending injury that prevented him from participating in that year’s playoffs, so he missed the World Series as a result. Holland was sidelined for all of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Holland signed a free agent contract with the Colorado Rockies after the 2016 season ended. He nailed down 41 saves for the Rockies in 2017 and was made the NL All-Star team. Holland’s save numbers slowly declined since and his ERA climbed a bit.

It’s hard to believe that Greg Holland will ever replicate the dominance we witnessed during the 2014 and 2015 seasons when he was a Royal, but it is worth taking the time to understand what fans should expect from him during the upcoming season.

Last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Holland notched 17 saves, pitched in 35.2 innings and finished with an ERA 4.54. It’s also worth noting that he struck out 41 batters. When looking at how he pitched in individual games, his numbers should cause curiosity of why other teams wouldn’t have taken a chance with the three-time All-Star.

Holland blew four save opportunities, but really only got touched up for runs in July and August, including when he gave up six earned runs in Miami the last weekend in July. Ironically those were the last two games he pitched as a Diamondback.

It’d be hard to imagine that he won’t make the roster simply based on how dismal the bullpen was last season. At $1.25 million, Holland is going to be a low risk at a great bargain to try and provide something to a Royals bullpen that ended the season with an ERA of 5.07.

Baseball is filled with a whole bunch of “what ifs”.  Everyone can ask what if Mike Jirschele had sent Alex Gordon in Game 7? For the sake of argument – What if Holland hadn’t given up those six runs over 2/3 of an inning in July of 2019? His ERA would have been around 3.00 for last season. That probably makes him very attractive for a significant amount of teams in the league.

It’s understandable why Royals fans would be a bit concerned bringing back a former closer for a second round in Kansas City. Most fans would agree that bringing back Joakim Soria didn’t really work out as intended after the 2017 season ended.

Holland actually will provide the Kansas City Royals with some much needed help. Fans should expect him to eat up an inning here and there and hopefully do it during games when the Royals either have the lead or need to get critical outs to keep the good guys in a tight game.

Fans should also expect to see Holland pitching about 30 innings to try and set up Ian Kennedy to come into the game in the ninth inning with a lead and to lock down that save – Something Holland did so well for so many years.

The Royals bullpen – without a doubt – is something the Royals will have to fully address if they ever desire to really compete again in the division. Holland is simply being given a second chance from the team that gave him his first chance. There’s reason to be optimistic that we will see him on the mound this season.

Either way we at least know that we can rely on Greg Holland to eat a few innings if the bullpen performs the same as it did last season. If nothing else, he’ll get his farewell tour at Kauffman Stadium for all of the years when he was the best in the biz.


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