Detroit Tigers’ Derek Holland wants to teach prospects to ‘keep fighting’

Derek Holland will always remember his very first 11 pitches versus the Detroit Tigers last season. He remembers with confidence taking the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 8 at PNC Park, understanding he needed to restore the bullpen.

The night previously, the groups integrated for 30 runs in 11 innings and utilized 14 overall reducers, so the Pirates were relying on Holland. The 12-year veteran, with more than 300 video games on his resume, felt ready for the job.

Those 11 pitches, nevertheless, were a headache. The 34-year-old, who, along with infielder Drew Ward on Saturday, signed with the Tigers on minor-league agreement, quit 4 crowning achievement — to Niko Goodrum, Miguel Cabrera, C.J. Cron and Jeimer Candelario — with a Jonathan Schoop single blended in.

5 runs. Absolutely no outs. 11 pitches.

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“The one that really stood out was the one that Miggy hit off me,” Holland informed the Free Press on Sunday, including he later on recognized he mistakenly tipped his pitches with small hand motions. “He’s a Hall of Famer, no doubt. I love the dude. But the pitch that he hit, it looked like he golfed it out. And I was like, ‘OK, today I don’t have my stuff, but no matter what, I can’t give in. I got to keep fighting and get through this. I just can’t tap out.'”

It’s simple to keep in mind Holland’s failures that day, however he achieved his primary objective by pitching into the 6th inning and tossing 112 pitches. He is bringing a comparable never-quit mindset — with a coach’s frame of mind — to spring training, where he will contend for an area on the big-league lineup.

The Tigers will utilize him solely as a reducer.

“I’m ready for that new chapter in my life,” Holland stated. “I want to earn the respect of my teammates and earn a spot on this team. We’re all going after the same thing. … I’m ready for whatever challenges are ahead, but first things first, I got to make the team.”

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Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario, right, rounds the bases past Pirates pitcher Derek Holland with a home run in the first inning on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Pittsburgh.
Tigers 3rd baseman Jeimer Candelario, right, rounds the bases past Pirates pitcher Derek Holland with a crowning achievement in the very first inning on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Pittsburgh.

Holland confesses he would not have actually reacted to the four-homer, 11-pitch scenario with as much optimism previously in his profession. When he was phoned by the Texas Rangers in 2009, he leaned on numerous veterans, consisting of previous Tiger Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Kevin Millwood.

An older gamer as soon as put him in “timeout” throughout a video game for talking excessive.

“They always had something for me, and (they) helped me become what I am today,” Holland stated. “I’m blessed to be in this situation. And I want to be the guy who helped me. I want to be the guy who helps those that are following in my footsteps.”

The Tigers have among the very best farm system’s in baseball, including young arms Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. Even the position potential customers might gain from finding out how to keep their feelings constant amidst difficult on-field scenarios.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize (12) delivers a pitch Sept. 23, 2020, during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize (12) provides a pitch Sept. 23, 2020, throughout the very first inning versus the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Mize and Skubal are the group’s 2nd- and fifth-best potential customers, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline. They made their MLB debuts in 2020 however had a hard time. Mize logged a 6.99 PERIOD, 26 strikeouts and 13 strolls in 28⅓ innings; Skubal completed with a 5.63 PERIOD, 37 strikeouts and 11 strolls in 32 innings.

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“I want them to be successful,” Holland stated. “I want them to realize they’re talented. Sometimes, we put a little too much pressure on ourselves when we get up here. Just get up there and enjoy yourself. If you go out there and do your job, you don’t have to worry about getting sent down. And if you do get sent down, use it as motivation. … Don’t let the negativity overtake you.”

Still, Holland wishes to contribute on the field, too. He has a profession 4.61 PERIOD and a 1.371 WHIP in 1,416⅓ innings throughout 307 video games (227 starts).

In Between 2018 and 2019, Holland controlled left-handed players, integrating for a 1.66 PERIOD, 49 strikeouts and 26 strolls in 70⅓ innings. Dealing with lefties in a reducer function throughout those 2 years, he provided just 2 made runs in 21⅓ innings.

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That’s how the Tigers hope Holland suits their 2021 strategies — a reducer to attack left-handed players. However Holland does not wish to be understood solely as a lefty expert, specifically not in the period of the three-batter minimum guideline.

“I’ve had really good numbers against lefties my entire career,” Holland stated. “I want to be able to show I can get right-handers out, too. I don’t care who’s up at the plate. I’m going to give my best efforts and give everything I got against whoever it is.”

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Derek Holland pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Pirates starter Derek Holland pitches versus the Milwaukee Makers in the very first inning of a baseball video game, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The Tigers’ beginners logged a league-worst 6.37 PERIOD in 2015. Reducers had a 4.94 PERIOD, putting them sixth-worst in the majors. In spite of Holland’s 6.86 PERIOD last season, he boasted a 25.1% strikeout rate and 8.4% walk rate. (He had 45 strikeouts and 15 strolls in 40⅔ innings.)

“Just not being so nit-picky,” Holland stated. “When I say that, I mean not trying to just nibble (but) going right after guys. If they’re going to hit it, let my defense do the things behind me. That’s what they’re there for. I’ve made the mistake of trying to be too perfect.”

There’s plenty Holland thinks he can use the Tigers, from acting as a dependable reducer to an instructor for the potential customers.

His tryout starts quickly. Pitchers and catchers are arranged to report Feb. 17 to Lakeland, Florida.

“I’ll make sure I put everything into it,” Holland stated. “That’s always been my goal.”

Evan Petzold is a sports press reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This post initially appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers’ Derek Holland desires potential customers to ‘keep battling’

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.