Derek Holland (hair)cuts to the chase
And that was before what was arguably his best start of the season Friday night.
“He shaved that ridiculous haircut and went back to work,” clubhouse leader Michael Young said.
Holland, whose horrible mustache remains intact, admits that the haircut was a case of him caving to peer pressure. He was also looking for anything that might help after allowing five runs in five innings in a loss to the Astros in his last start, which dropped him to 3-3 this season.
“I tried to do something different for the team,” Holland said. “The hair wasn’t getting many wins, so let’s try something different.”
The buzz cut is 1-0, winning in impressive fashion.
Holland pitched like the guy who won 10 of his last 11 decisions last season, the dude who dominated when he got the ball in Game 4 of the World Series. He gave the Rangers 7 1/3 strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits and one walk while recording a season-high nine strikeouts.
Holland had great stuff. His fastball touched 96 mph and his slider was the best it’s been this season.
However, Holland’s command was the biggest difference between this outing and some of his substandard performances this season.
The Rangers gave Holland a six-run cushion in the first inning -- after he struck out the side on 13 pitches -- and he responded by going right at the Blue Jays. That’s a sign of progress for a young pitcher who has been guilty of getting too cute when gifted a lead in the past.
“He stayed in control, didn’t try to get out of the innings too fast,” manager Ron Washington said. “He let the innings happen. Usually when Holland gets a big lead, he’s going to try to get three outs in one batter, but tonight he took it a batter at a time and executed his pitches extremely well.”
Added Holland: “You don’t want to try to nibble or anything like that. Obviously, that’s when things have hurt me before, when I try to do too much once they’ve scored runs for me. My job when I go out there after they score some runs is to shut them down and let them go out there and keep doing their thing.”
This is the kind of performance the Rangers want from Holland on a consistent basis.
It’s fair to hold Holland to that standard because the lefty has proven that he has that type of talent. He’s been dominant too many times to accept average or worse.
As Washington said, “He was the Derek Holland we’ve seen before.”
Just with a better haircut. Or more business-like, at least.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.