Royals closer Greg Holland hasn’t been his usual, dominant self this season. The right-hander posted a sub-2.00 ERA in three of the previous four seasons, cementing himself as one of the game’s top closers.
This year has been a different story. Holland suffered a Grade 1 pectoral strain in April and was held out for three weeks. And though he has blown only four saves in 35 chances, he has a 3.56 ERA and a 13 percent walk rate, both of which would be career highs. Holland has also seen a sharp decline in velocity, particularly in September. According to Brooks Baseball, Holland is averaging 91 MPH on his fastball compared to 93-95 MPH in the previous five months. His slider, too, has dropped in velocity, going from an 86-88 average from April through August to 84 MPH in September.
Holland struggled to get the save on Tuesday against the Indians, allowing a lead-off walk and a single before a pop-up bunt and a foul pop-up put two quick outs on the board. He then uncorked a wild pitch ahead of striking out Giovanny Urshela to end the game.
Manager Ned Yost isn’t worried, but said that if things got worse, “we’ll evaluate it,” as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. Yost said, “It hasn’t become an issue yet. People want to get nervous because he’s throwing 90 or 91 mph. That’s fine. But right now, it really hasn’t become an issue. If it does, we’ll evaluate it.”
The Royals, all but assured of a playoff spot with an 85-59 record entering Wednesday’s action, could be forced to turn to current set-up man Wade Davis as a closing option in the playoffs. Davis has a superb 0.91 ERA with a 68/17 K/BB ratio in 59 2/3 innings and has earned the save in all but one of his 14 opportunities this season.
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No Joe K.
Red Sox starter Joe Kelly turned around his season with a strong August and opening to September, posting a 1.85 ERA across seven starts. He struggled in his most recent start on Tuesday against the Orioles, yielding four runs (three earned) on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. Kelly left with what was initially described as shoulder tightness and fatigue.
Kelly, acquired from the Cardinals at the trade deadline last season, was championed as a big piece of the rotation, but he’ll end his 2015 season with a 4.82 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP, and a 110/49 K/BB ratio over 134 1/3 innings. The 27-year-old will try to bounce back next season.
Giants Shut Panik Down
Giants second baseman Joe Panik’s season is officially done, as he was placed on the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday. The 24-year-old missed almost all of August and the first week of September due to lower back issues. He returned for three games last week but hasn’t played since September 9.
Panik was in the midst of a breakout season, batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs, 37 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 432 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, he’s still the second-most valuable second baseman in baseball at 4.1 Wins Above Replacement, behind Jason Kipnis (4.4), tied with Ian Kinsler, and just ahead of Dee Gordon (4.0).
The 77-69 Giants have an outside shot at winning the NL West or the second NL Wild Card slot. In the low-probability event they do make the post-season, not having Panik will hurt. Otherwise, they’ll finish out the regular season with Kelby Tomlinson at second base. Tomlinson, 25, has hit .300/.353/.409 in 119 plate appearances thus far.
National League Quick Hits: Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a shutout loss to the Marlins on Wednesday … Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth homered twice as the Nationals completed a sweep of the Phillies on Wednesday … Marlins starter Adam Conley shut the Mets out over seven innings to win on Wednesday … The Braves activated starter Michael Foltynewicz from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday … An MRI on Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard’s left knee turned up negative for structural damage … Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday (quad) wasn’t in Wednesday’s starting lineup… Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco stole his 25th base in Wednesday’s 12-inning loss to the Cubs … Cubs third baseman doubled twice and stole a base in a 12-inning win over the Pirates … Catcher Martin Maldonado hit a three-run home run but the Brewers fell to the Cardinals on Wednesday … Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips doubled twice in Wednesday’s loss to the Giants… Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins (finger) felt pain when trying to throw on Wednesday … Giants starter Jake Peavy hit a solo home run in Wednesday against the Reds … Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock had three hits in Wednesday’s game versus the Padres … Padres starter Josh Johnson will undergo Tommy John surgery for the third time in his career … Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was held out of Wednesday’s lineup due to a foot injury.
American League Quick Hits: Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin homered and knocked in four runs in Wednesday’s victory over the Braves … Ivan Nova was taken out of the Yankees’ rotation on Wednesday … Orioles outfielder Steve Pearce had the team’s only RBI in a loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday … Rays shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (knee) hopes to return before the end of the season … Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia hit two home runs and plated five runs in routing the Orioles on Wednesday … Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas hit his 19th home run in Wednesday’s loss to the Indians … Twins starter Ricky Nolasco threw a 37-pitch bullpen session without issue on Wednesday … Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor homered with four RBI in a win over the Royals on Wednesday … White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu hit a home run, his 29th of the season, in a win over the Athletics on Wednesday … The Tigers activated starter Daniel Norris from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday … 1B/DH Carlos Pena will sign a one-day contract with the Rangers and then retire … Dallas Keuchel was hammered for nine runs over 4 2/3 innings versus the Rangers on Wednesday … Angels starter Jered Weaver was ejected in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s start against the Mariners after hitting Kyle Seager with a pitch … Mariners first baseman Jesus Montero hit a three-run home run on Wednesday against the Angels … The Athletics purchased the contract of pitcher Barry Zito from Triple-A Nashville.