The aftershocks from Greg Holland’s momentary lapses in Friday’s ninth inning were still apparent the next afternoon. Manager Ned Yost blamed himself for overusing his closer. Holland insisted he would continue to answer the call, even as he dealt with fatigue.
His weariness manifested against the Twins in a lack of command. Pitching coach Dave Eiland remarked to Yost that Holland lacked his usual arm speed. He appeared to be losing his balance on the mound and drifting early in his delivery, Eiland explained, which leads to pitches up in the zone, like the one Minnesota Oswaldo Arcia smoked for an RBI double.
“A lot of times, when you drift, it’s because of fatigue,” Eiland said the next afternoon at Target Field. “Which goes along with the workload. But this time of year, everybody’s a bit fatigued. You have to fight through it.”
Yost hoped to use neither Holland nor set-up man Wade Davis for Saturday’s game, but he is reluctant to specifically set aside days to rest Holland and use Davis as his closer. He does not want to burn out Davis, either. And he cannot take games off as the club attempts to win their first division title since 1985.
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It is worth remembering that the Royals won on Friday. Holland has given up three runs in eight appearances this August. He has appeared vulnerable at times during the end of the last homestand, allowing San Francisco to load the bases in one appearances, and letting two batters on when facing Oakland in another.
These are the standards Holland has set for himself. He is a two-time All-Star. He may be the American League’s best closer. And his ability is critical as the Royals push for the playoffs.
Holland (1.86 ERA, 37 saves) has appeared in 50 games thus far in 2014. The workload has become routine for him. He pitched in his 50th of 2013 on Aug. 16 last year, working back-to-back in a doubleheader. In 2012, he appeared in his 50th game on Aug. 19.
“You get a certain level of fatigue, at this point in the season, regardless of how often you’re used or not,” Holland said. “Just from the everyday grind of trying to get ready for a baseball game every day. I just haven’t been as sharp as I want to be the last few outings.
“But it’s translated into wins. That’s the good news. I’m pretty confident that when I get back to where I want to be, we’ll win those games, too.”
To Eiland, the bigger issue is mechanical. Holland worked on his delivery during a pregame session on Friday without a ball.
“It’s been addressed, and it’s something we’re working on,” Eiland said. “But it’s hard to work on something with a closer. It’s hard to take him out there and have him throw 15, 20 pitches and work on something when he’s going to potentially pitch that night.”
Holland expects himself to bounce back soon. And he will not shy away from work in the interim.
“You’re getting paid to do a job,” Holland said. “I have no problem with someone else going in there and throwing the ninth inning. Like I always tell him when he tells me I’ve got a day off: ‘Yeah, well, I’ll be ready when the phone rings.’”
Zimmer set for debut
Kyle Zimmer, the No. 5 pick in the 2012 draft and the organization’s top pitching prospect, will make his 2014 debut on Sunday with Class A Idaho Falls. Zimmer is slated to throw one inning, director of player development Scott Sharp said. After two days off, he is scheduled to make his second appearance.
Zimmer has missed all of this season due to a strained latissimusi dorsi muscle in his back. There is a small chance he reaches the majors this season as a reliever.