WASHINGTON -- Greg Holland has a career 2.93 ERA, but he struggled this season with the Cardinals, pitching to a 7.92 ERA and never settling in as the team's closer before St. Louis released him July 27. The Nationals invited Holland to throw for them Monday, when manager Dave Martinez
WASHINGTON -- Greg Holland has a career 2.93 ERA, but he struggled this season with the Cardinals, pitching to a 7.92 ERA and never settling in as the team's closer before St. Louis released him July 27. The Nationals invited Holland to throw for them Monday, when manager Dave Martinez tried to bolster the right-hander's confidence.
"I told him, 'I don't care what you did in St. Louis,'" Martinez said. "I said, 'You get a fresh start here. Just be you. Come out here, have fun and get outs.'"
The Nationals signed Holland on Tuesday, which could help them absorb the loss of Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley. Washington traded Kintzler to the Cubs before the non-waiver Trade Deadline and traded Kelley to the Athletics on Sunday.
Martinez didn't waste any time calling on Holland, summoning the right-hander in the seventh inning of the Nats' 8-3 win in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader vs. the Braves. Holland issued a leadoff walk before striking out the side.
"He's just really excited to be here," Martinez said before the game. "If we get him and he's healthy, which we think he really is, he's going to help us."
Nats All-Star closer Sean Doolittle is still recovering from a stress reaction in his left foot. Right-hander Koda Glover is rehabbing with Triple-A Syracuse after recovering from his right shoulder injuries.
The Nationals stood pat at the Deadline, a show of confidence from the front office that it believed the roster was talented enough to make a postseason run in the season's final two months. But Martinez said Holland's postseason experience and track record made the Nats want to take a chance on him, as they try to chip away at the Phillies' lead -- 5 1/2 games entering Tuesday -- in the National League East.
Holland pitched in the 2014 World Series with the Royals and has posted a 2.31 postseason ERA over 11 2/3 innings. In '17, Holland recorded a 3.61 ERA with 41 saves for the Rockies in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, earning the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Across six seasons with the Royals, Holland notched a 2.42 ERA with 145 saves.
Since the Cards released him, Holland, 32, said he's pitched four or five times from a mound, trying to improve his mental state and throw more consistent pitches. The Nationals optioned right-hander Jimmy Cordero to Syracuse to make room for Holland, who played with Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera in Kansas City.
"I'll be ready whenever the phone rings," Holland said. "We've got a lot of guys who have pitched in a lot of big games. The main thing right now is to be able to throw when your name is called."
The Nationals will likely remain active in August, especially after winning eight of their past 11 games. In two of the past four years, they've added relievers in August who made their postseason roster. Washington could still use another arm in its rotation and catching help. The Nats explored options to upgrade at catcher before the Deadline and expect to do so again this month, a source told MLB.com's Jamal Collier.
Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.