Black will 'navigate' ninth inning for time being

With Holland struggling, manager will consider other options as well

August 27th, 2017

ATLANTA -- Rockies manager Bud Black stopped short of removing struggling Greg Holland from the closer role, but said he'll "navigate" the ninth inning for the time being.

After Holland gave up a Matt Adams two-run homer with one out in the ninth inning Saturday, the Rockies called upon Jake McGee, who earned the save in a 7-6 victory over the Braves. Struggling with his signature slider, Holland has given up 14 runs, including four home runs, 13 hits and six walks in his last eight games.

Black said Holland would not be available for Sunday's series finale vs. the Braves since the reliever had pitched three of four days. He'll work on the side on regaining the feel for his slider. How frequently and which inning he'll be used in the near future is uncertain.

"Greg no doubt is going through a tough time, and I think it's primarily around the slider," Black said Sunday morning. "The slider is not quite as crisp, not quite breaking as sharply as it was. We've got to get to the bottom of the zone with the spin. A lot of that is mechanics.

"For us, I wouldn't say go back to the drawing board, but we've gotta simplify some things when it comes to basic pitching mechanics."

Black said he would continue the dialogue with Holland. They've discussed an early-August accident when Holland suffered a cut on the back of his right index finger while doing dishes. However, Holland pitched well in his first two appearances after the injury, and no one is blaming the finger.

But working through issues in pregame sessions may not preclude Holland from being involved in a game that night. The Rockies have options if he isn't available for the ninth, or if Black uses him earlier in games.

McGee, a lefty who has 43 career saves since debuting with the Rays in 2010 -- including 15 last year and two this year with the Rockies -- is an option. So are righty Pat Neshek and lefty Mike Dunn, who have big-game and postseason experience. So there are lefty and righty options if Black wants to play matchups.

"We're going to navigate," Black said.

Holland's struggles could also require more from other relievers.

Righty has struggled much of the year, especially right before and immediately after going on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. In his last three outings, he has been scoreless, with one hit, three strikeouts and two walks, but he needed 30 pitches to get through Friday's outing. Righty , meanwhile, has been up and down in his 51 appearances.

Lefty Chris Rusin has proven the ability to pitch in multiple roles, righty and former starter is working in the bullpen, and lefty starter could be used in the bullpen in September once he has fully rehabbed a left knee injury.

"We're going to need all our guys, Greg included, from our bullpen," Black said. "We presently have eight. In September when the roster expands, we'll have some reinforcements."