Nats agree to Minors deal with Holland

August 13th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals agreed to a Minor League deal with reliever and assigned him to Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday. Holland was designated for assignment Wednesday and officially released by Arizona on Sunday after a rough stint with the D-backs.

The two sides had been working throughout the day on Monday toward completing this deal to bring Holland back to Washington for a chance to follow a similar script as last season.

In July 2018, the Cardinals released Holland after he posted a 7.92 ERA in 32 appearances for St. Louis. He signed with the Nationals and turned his season around, giving up just two runs in 21 1/3 innings (0.84 ERA) with 25 strikeouts and 10 walks.

That helped Holland secure a one-year, $3.5 million contract with Arizona this winter, and through his first 36 games he had been solid -- a 3.00 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 20 walks. His most recent four appearances had been a disaster, however, as he surrendered seven runs in 2 2/3 innings with four walks and one strikeout before the D-backs decided to move on.

Holland, 33, has also suffered from some declining fastball velocity this season, with his four-seam averaging just 91.6 mph, the lowest of his career and well below his career average at 94.8 mph or even last season’s average of 93 mph. His 11.9 swinging strike rate this year is also a career low.

But perhaps the Nats can strike gold in back-to-back years.

They made three moves to improve their bullpen before the July 31 Trade Deadline -- adding Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias, who is on the injured list -- but since Aug. 1 their bullpen still owns a 6.49 ERA, the fourth highest in the National League.

The Nationals have picked up numerous veteran relievers this season in an attempt to save their beleaguered bullpen, to varying degrees of success. Some -- like Fernando Rodney or Javy Guerra -- have stuck, while others -- such as Dan Jennings or Brad Boxberger -- did not have the same success.