Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland Have To Step Up

Bo ReedCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 27:  Pitcher Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers leaves the game in the 6th inning during play against the New York Yankees on May 27, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In a statement to the work Jon Daniels and the front office have done these past two seasons, the news of Matt Harrison’s season ending injury did not strike the Texas Rangers particularly hard.


In fact, it hardly resonates among the Rangers since he’s been out so long.

However, it’s still a blow to the team’s development of young starters as the club builds for the future.


In all likelihood, Harrison will have his surgery and be ready to go next March in Surprise, but his progress will now come to a staggering halt. Luckily for the Rangers, they have replacement options already in the starting rotation.


With Brandon McCarthy out until late August at least with his latest injury, the Rangers have relied on Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland to keep the team in contention.


Tommy Hunter has emerged as a consistent pitcher with four plus major league pitches. Consistent may not do his performance justice because let’s face it; the kid has been downright dominant since his first spot start.


Equally as impressive, Hunter has drawn the opposition’s ace in nearly every start this season. Instead of faltering, the rookie right-hander has gone 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA thus far and shows little sign of slowing down.


Derek Holland has been inconsistent as a starter and dominates as a reliever due to a lack of effectiveness with his secondary pitches. When he can come out of the pen and use his fastball exclusively, he can last the two to three innings necessary.


As a starter, he’s had one true dominating performance against the San Francisco Giants and a mixed bag in his other starts. It’s no coincidence that start featured his best breaking stuff in his young career.


So the question is, can Holland put it together and become the starter the Rangers envision him becoming? If the answer is yes then the Rangers are still set-up nicely for a playoff push. If not, the Rangers may be in trouble.


With an above average fastball and a curveball improving with each appearance, Derek Holland may be on his way to establishing himself in the rotation. For now, the Rangers need him to hold down the fifth spot in the rotation and give the team a chance to win every start.


In the course of a season with the standings as close as this, the difference down the stretch will come down to the fourth and fifth starters.


The Rangers know what they are getting from Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla and Scott Feldman. They are becoming aware of what to expect from Tommy Hunter in the fourth spot.


The rest is up to the electric young lefthander Derek Holland.