The Interview Vault: Derek Holland
Holland, the 25th round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2006 out of Wallace State Community College wasn’t exactly a hot prospect when he arrived to start the 2008 season. He was coming off a solid 4-5, 3.22 season in Spokane, but wasn’t the returning playoff hero that right-hander Evan Reed was. Reed, a third-round pick in 2007 out of Cal Poly was given the #2 starter role because pitching coach Danny Clark felt Holland “had earned it” with a great Spring Training.
What Holland would earn from there on would put him on the fast track to the big leagues.
He went 7-0 with a 2.40 ERA and limited Midwest League opponents to a .228 average over his 17 starts as a LumberKing, including six innings of one-hit ball in that previously-mentioned Opening Night outing against the Kernels. Getting better with each start and limited only by a pesky blister on his pitching hand, Holland would prove ready for the next level by the time July rolled around. In his final three starts, he yielded just a run over 19.2 innings (a 0.46 ERA) and struck out 18.
His fantastic rise continued in the Cal League as he needed just five starts with Bakersfield to prove to Rangers brass that he was too good for high-A as well. Added along with LumberKings’ teammate Neftali Feliz to double-A Frisco, Holland would go 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA and a .163 opponent average over four regular-season starts and 1-1 with an astounding 0.44 ERA (1 ER in 20.2 IP) in three playoff starts for the RoughRiders. He’d end the year alongside Feliz as the unquestioned future of the Texas staff.
By the time late April, 2009 came around, Holland was primed for his Major League debut with the Rangers. Not quite a full year after he was a suspicious choice for Clinton’s #1 rotation spot, he was dressing in blue and red at Rogers Centre in Toronto, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings in relief against the Blue Jays.
In parts of two Major League seasons with the Rangers, Holland has already seen his fair share of success and failure. After dropping his ERA as low as 4.72 with three-straight wins in the rotation (including a complete-game effort against the Angels on August 9), Holland lost six of his last seven starts to finish the ’09 season at 8-13, 6.12. This season saw Holland bounce between triple-A Oklahoma City and the Rangers, improving on his numbers significantly as he went 3-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 games, 10 starts with Texas.
And, of course, he pitched in the 2010 playoffs. Ignore his disastrous outing against San Francisco in the World Series and he was pretty solid in relief. The Rangers might not advance past the Yankees without his relief victory in the Bronx in Game 4. Needless to say, Holland has made himself a fixture as either a starter or reliever heading into 2011.
For today’s edition of The Interview Vault, I’ve dug up my first recorded conversation with Derek following the first of his seven wins with the LumberKings. He defeated the Dayton Dragons at Fifth Third Field, not far from his hometown of Newark, OH back on April 18, 2008. Aside from talking about the outing, we also talk about his favorite team growing up — the Atlanta Braves — and his favorite pitcher from that staff, the legendary Greg Maddux. Fitting that his current pitching coach is Mike Maddux.
Derek Holland (April, 2008).mp3
I’ve also interviewed Derek since he’s been a Ranger. You can find that on a previous LumberBlog post here: http://mlblogslumberkings.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/holland20interview20vault-thumb-480×270-25217911.jpgarchives/2009/06/special_guest_derek_holland.html