With the trade of Jonathan Broxton, Greg Holland has now been announced as the Royals’ closer for the remainder of the year, barring significant struggles in the role. With the announcement coming yesterday, Holland is most likely already rostered in meaningful fantasy leagues, so grabbing him is probably not possible at this point. Rather than simply say to acquire him, I’ll try and figure out whether Holland should succeed or struggle as a closer and how valuable he should be for the rest of the year.
Holland was an elite reliever last year due to a stellar K/BB ratio of 3.89 and ability to keep the ball in the park. This season, Holland’s walk rate has spiked while his strikeout and home run rates have remained steady. The walk rate has led to more runs allowed, but all of his fielding independent pitching stats suggest that his runs allowed rate should drop. As a closer, the walks could become a more serious issue and his role could be lost with only a few poor outings. More than anything, it is important to monitor how frequently Holland is walking batters in his new role to see whether you would like to move him — if your trade deadline has not yet been reached — or whether you should pick up Aaron Crow. Crow’s performance is not entirely dissimilar to Holland’s, so his leash will be short. I would recommend targeting Crow in any holds league or acquiring him if you have an open spot and desperately need saves, as he could be the closer as soon as next week if Holland does not succeed.
The big reason for the spike in walk rates has been inconsistent command of his fastball. Last year, he threw his fastball in the zone 58.5% of the time while he sits at just a 51.6% rate this year. The rest of his pitches are all in the zone more frequently, but his struggles with consistently locating his fastball combined with an uptick in fastball frequency have caused his walk rate to jump about 4%. Maybe moving more toward the slider heavy approach would help his walk rate for the short-term, but in the long-term his fastball command will likely determine his success in the closer role.
I have added Holland myself in a league with four closers. I drafted Holland before the season with the expectancy that he would be the closer at the start of the year, so my confidence in his abilities has never left. Most leagues probably do not value Holland that highly, but if you are looking for a cheap closer who grabs a good amount of strikeouts, Holland is the guy to target. Unfortunately, save opportunities may be few and far between for the last place Royals, so spending anything worthwhile on Holland may create more issues than it helps. In keeper and dynasty leagues, I like Holland to hold onto the closer role and be the closer of the future. In those leagues, I am particularly fond of Holland and recommend attempting to acquire him if you have not already.
Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.