December 12, 2012
The Keeper Reaper
Relievers for 12/12/12
Greg Holland | Royals
Greg Holland has arguably been the Royals’ best reliever the past two seasons, and although he finally got a chance to close in the second-half of 2012, a couple major dominos had to fall for that to come to fruition. First, Joakim Soria was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery during spring training. Then, Soria’s replacement, Jonathan Broxton, was dealt to the Reds in a July trade. Finally, Holland became the man, and he handled the promotion with aplomb, presumably setting himself up nicely for first dibs on the ninth inning in 2013.
It may seem counterintuitive to place much faith in a reliever who was his team’s third choice to close only a year ago, but with Holland having made his bones in the second-half last season (as well as in a cameo appearance as the Royals’ closer late in 2011) and his path to the ninth inning unimpeded in 2013, he has the makings of a stopper who will reward owners who invest in him. Though his occasional bouts of wildness are worth noting, Holland is a high-strikeout pitcher who induces an average number of ground balls and is generally tough for batters to square up. In 145 2/3 career innings, he’s allowed 118 hits, only eight of which were homers.
Holland may not be among the first pitchers who come to mind when you think of closers as keeper candidates, but that may well change in a year’s time. Now is the chance to get in at the ground floor.
Ernesto Frieri | Angels
The always exclusive “Closer Club” can expel you just as quickly as it embraces you, as Ernesto Frieri is learning. Owners were tripping over themselves to add Ernasty and his gaudy strikeout numbers last May and June, when he came out of nowhere to grab closing duties for the Halos after being acquired from the Padres in a seemingly ho-hum early-season trade. Things weren’t as rosy for the right-hander from there, however. In the second-half, Frieri’s bullpen-mates, most notably lefty Scott Downs, vultured a handful of save chances, and Frieri’s own performance “slipped” from ungodly to merely respectable.