© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
For a pitcher who’s 31-years-old and vying for a rotation spot with the San Francisco Giants, Derek Holland’s competition — Ty Blach, Chris Stratton, Tyler Beede, and Andrew Suarez — isn’t making him look any younger. Nonetheless, Holland put up impressive numbers in his Spring Training debut, which got Mike Krukow wondering how the left-handed pitcher will potentially fit in the Giants pitching staff this upcoming season.
“I think the opportunity on the Giants team right now is for left-handers in the bullpen,” Krukow told Murph & Mac on Tuesday morning. “It’s big-time competition between Okert and Osich. We know Tony Watson is going, but they want to have another left-hander and it might be Derek Holland.”
Holland pitched two innings against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, where he gave up at two-run home run, but managed to get four strikeouts.
“He doesn’t have great command, but he has great stuff,” Krukow said. “If you put that great stuff in the bullpen, I think it could be a little more usable for a guy that doesn’t have a great command. We’ll see, but they definitely had a raised eyebrow because of the four strikeouts in his first outing.”
Acquiring Tony Watson on February 19 was a huge step towards evening out their bullpen, but the Giants are still in need of left-handed arms in relief.
As it stands, the only lefties in their bullpen are Will Smith, who is expected to return on May 1 after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery, Josh Oisch, and Steven Okert, both of whom are coming off tough seasons.
Krukow likened Holland’s situation to the one Archie Bradley was in last spring. Bradley struggled as a starting pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks during his first two years in the major leagues, recording a 5.80 ERA as a rookie in 2015 and then a 5.02 ERA the following year, but he found his groove in the bullpen.
Last season, Bradley was 3-3 with a 1.73 ERA and one save in relief for the Diamondbacks. He went on to pitch beautifully in the NLDS against the Dodgers, giving up only one unearned run and three hits while striking out five in 4.2 innings of work.
“With [Holland], he considers himself a starter,” Krukow said. “He might be a story that you might see that’s similar to Archie Bradley. Archie Bradley was always a starter, always thought of as a starter. Then, all of a sudden, he finds a home in the bullpen and just took off.”
To listen to the full interview check out the podcast below, and skip to 3:32 for Krukow on Holland.