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ALDS Game #4 Preview: Blue Jays @ Rangers

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays are still on life support, but signs of a potential recovery are starting to show through after last night's huge win. This afternoon at 4:07, the second game of a quadruple-header for the MLB (you should ignore your family all day), Derek Holland will have a chance to eliminate Toronto and get Texas back into the ALCS. Opposing the lefty on the mound will be R.A. Dickey making his first career start in the postseason! After over a decade in the game, the knuckler will finally toe a playoff rubber and look to keep his team alive down in Arlington against the team that drafted him.

Looking at Holland, the southpaw has had two rough years back-to-back in 2014 and 2015 due to serious injuries. Last year he tore cartilage in his knee while playing with his dog, while this year he was injured in his first start and sidelined until late August. With the benefit of a fresh arm he's come back and pitched deep into some games, although the results haven't been very inspiring. In nine starts since returning to the Rangers, he has a 4.84 ERA and a pretty unimpressive strikeout rate of around 16%.

Holland was originally selected by the Rangers in the 25th round of the 2006 draft and eventually became one of the organization's top prospects. When he made his way to the majors in 2009, it just never really happened for him. Throwing from the left side, Holland put up mediocre numbers year after year and only had an ERA or FIP under 3.90 in his solid 2013 campaign. Injuries have derailed his career recently and the freshly turned 29-year-old will now try to add some value to his team in the postseason. He's got team options of around $11 million for 2017 and 2018, so it will be interesting to see if the Rangers consider him too injury-prone to keep around.

Where Martin Perez's repertoire matched up with the Jays weaknesses somewhat last night, Holland's offerings don't really at all. The 6'2" lefty throws a mid-90's fastball along with a slider, curveball, and changeup. His slider is his best secondary pitch so he throws it against hitters on both sides of the plate, to varied effect. You see, righties usually mash Holland as the slider isn't exactly a pitch you throw to opposite-handed hitters. His changeup hasn't been that effective in his career meaning he lacks a real strong secondary pitch against RHH like what Cole Hamels and Perez posses. That's an issue. As a LOOGY in the bullpen, Holland would be an asset, but as a starter he's always going to be susceptible to right-handed-heavy lineups. The Blue Jays happen to have one of those.

There's another anomaly about Holland, that being that he POUNDS the glove side. Unlike Hamels and Perez before him, this lefty doesn't avoid confrontation with RHH power bats, he invites it. It all adds up to what SHOULD be a successful day for Blue Jays bats. It's the playoffs and anything can happen, but a lefty throwing 50% fastballs to the inside of the plate shouldn't have much success against a team like the Jays. Observe:

Holland2

Probable Lineup

Same lineup as last night, except for the inclusion of Russell Martin for Dioner Navarro.

  1. Ben Revere LF
  2. Josh Donaldson 3B
  3. Jose Bautista RF
  4. Edwin Encarnacion DH
  5. Chris Colabello 1B
  6. Troy Tulowitzki SS
  7. Russell Martin C
  8. Kevin Pillar CF
  9. Ryan Goins 2B
I have no idea what the plan with the bullpen is, but thankfully Marco Estrada gave them all some rest last night. I imagine we'll see David Price this afternoon (despite his 'side session' yesterday) whenever R.A. Dickey gives up a few runs, so that should be interesting to say the least.

Find the Link

Find the link between Derek Holland and the president of a certain West African country from January 1870 to October 1871.

Another comfortable victory like last night would be good for Blue Jays fans and their health. The outcome of this afternoon's contest is anyone's guess, but the Blue Jays should have some success against Derek Holland. Enjoy!