Greg Holland, the intended closer for the St. Louis Cardinals, has struggled since joining the team, what gives? The 32-year-old former member of the Colorado Rockies was signed to a one year, $14 million contract and he has yet to prove he deserved it.
His statistics with the Cardinals are blemishes on his overall career. With the Cardinals, he is currently -0.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), statistical proof that Holland is hurting the team. His career stat is actually 11.3 WAR, meaning that he should be an asset to whatever team he is playing for. Holland currently owns the second highest ERA in the bullpen at 7.36, right behind Luke Gregerson’s 9.82. This is a far cry from his career 2.69 ERA.
Looking only at his career statistics, it is easy to see why the Cardinals pursued him. The team was in desperate need of a dependable closer and they hoped to remedy that by signing Holland. He was signed late and spent some time in the Cardinals’ minor league system to make up for missing spring training. In his first appearance as a Cardinal, he walked four straight batters, walking in a run and taking the 5-4 loss against the Brewers. This was a first for Holland, who had never walked that many batters in a game before. With how tight the race is in the National League Central, the Cardinals cannot afford to lose to other teams in their division.
People have argued that Holland did not have enough time to prepare before joining the Cardinals in the major leagues. He played a few games at High-A after being signed. It could be said that he needed some more time in the minors, to make up for missing all of spring training. However, Holland is no rookie. He debuted in the major leagues in 2010. The reliever was a top nine Cy Young contender in 2013 and 2014. He was an All-Star in 2013, 2014 and 2017. He has pitched well in the past, despite what he has shown this season.
So the question stands, is Holland worth the $14 million they paid for him? He has thrown several scoreless innings, but it isn’t enough to offset the wins he has cost the franchise. Holland also hasn’t been given much help from his defense, but the lack of control in his pitches is on him. He is a major league pitcher, he has experience and he should be better than how he is currently performing.
The team is only 27 games into the season, a lot can, and likely will, change in 162 games. The fact of the matter is that Holland has not yet proven himself to be a reliable reliever. Mike Matheny wants a perfect closer, but, at least right now, that is not going to be Greg Holland.