2014 Phillies Report Card: Mario Hollands

Mario Hollands‘ name was something of a surprise on the Opening Day 25 man roster. The 25 year old had pitched well in the spring, during which Ryne Sandberg appeared to take quite a shining to him; only 3 other pitchers made more spring training appearances than Hollands, a non-roster invitee who spent all of 2013 in either Clearwater or Reading.

The notion of spring-training-as-tryout should probably draw more ire than it does from those of us that wring our hands constantly about sample size. Maybe Sandberg saw some potential in Hollands’ 94 to 95 mph fastball generating ground ball outs, or a slider which, at its peak, can be impressive. Or maybe he was just pleased that Hollands allowed only 4 runs in 11 and 2/3rds innings. Either way, he certainly does not wring his hands about sample size, and not only did Hollands make the Opening Day roster, Sandberg tossed him into the furnace on opening day in Arlington, into a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 9th against the Rangers.

Ultimately, it was B.J. Rosenberg who, to the surprise of nobody, allowed the walk-off hit by Adrian Beltre. But it was Hollands who set the stage by walking Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre, generally looking as if it were the first time he was ever asked to throw a ball reasonably close to the same two-and-a-half square foot area.

Hollands’ 2014 campaign improved from there, though that was not his low point — this distinction likely goes to a 3 appearance stretch in July in which he faced 19 batters and only retired 7, allowing 6 runs. He had periods of success, particularly in May and June, when the slider was missing bats and he held the opposition to a .214/.286/.314 line. All along the way, though, he was dogged by walks, which he issued to 10.3% of the hitters he faced.

Hollands hit the 60 day disabled list on September 4th, a day after leaving an outing against the Braves with a sore left elbow. The injury, a grade 2 flexor strain, will not require surgery, so there’s a good chance we will see Mario again in the spring. And that’s fine. Free passes aside, Hollands demonstrated the ability to generate swings and misses, and had the Goddess of Outcomes been a bit fairer to him, he may have been within spitting distance of league average effectiveness.

It’s not impossible to imagine Hollands as a reliable medium leverage reliever — sorry, Ryne, I meant “7th inning guy” — if he can improve his control and be able to attack hitters with his slider more frequently in pitcher’s counts. He could well be a worthy supplement to a bullpen that increasingly looks like it will be built around Ken Giles. There’s no harm in giving him another season to see.

Grade: C-

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