DENVER – On a chilly Tuesday evening at Coors Field, the Colorado Rockies were locked in a tight battle with the San Diego Padres when a clutch home run from Nolan Arenado put the team up 3-2 late.
So, it was time once again for the much discussed Rockies bullpen to literally “save” the day. And yet again, they came through with Adam Ottavino striking out the side in the eighth and Greg Holland slamming the door shut in the ninth.
“That’s how you draw it up. Get a lead and hold it,” Holland said after securing his fifth straight save to start the season. He has allowed just two baserunners, both on walks.
In this game, a passed ball meant that Holland had to deal with a runner in scoring position for the first time in 2017. BSN Denver asked him about whether or not facing such a situation at Coors can change a pitcher’s approach, knowing how much space there is for bloop hits to fall in and line drives to carry.
“I’m glad that didn’t cross my mind,” Holland said. “I’ve had plenty of runners at second base. All you can do in that situation is just try to execute pitches, realize the things that might beat you [like]elevating the ball. You can get weak contact over the infield and it ties the game, so if you’re gonna elevate, you’ve got to do it to the right hitters in the right counts. So, stuff like that. Just like anywhere. If I’m gonna give up contact, I want it to be really soft on the ground.”
That response sums up what we have seen from Holland in a nutshell. First, he made two jokes that still illuminated important truths; he keeps his mind focused on the next pitch and not the last one, and he’s been here before. The guy holds the record for saves in a World Series. But even after quipping at us that he wasn’t overly concerned with the potential problems we were getting at, he went on to give a scholarly explanation of his process.
He went on to say that he is still working on that process as it relates to his new home and his signature pitch; the slider.
“I think I’ve only thrown it here twice,” he says. “But it didn’t feel any different. It gets dry out here quicker, the balls are harder to grip, but if you can keep your sweat going and your rosin, if you can have a grip on the ball, I feel like the spin and everything feels pretty much the same.”
When the Rockies acquired Greg Holland, everyone knew they were getting a two-time All-Star, once a consensus Top 5 reliever in the game, and a ballplayer who doesn’t shrink from big moments. He thrives on them. But everyone also knew the Rockies were getting a surgically repaired player who had thrown a competitive pitch in a year-and-a-half.
What few may have realized, however, was that the Rockies were getting themselves a guy for their clubhouse who can be both a dominating force and a relaxing presence. The experience is important but the personality is too. The Rockies didn’t just get themselves a new closer, they got themselves a new leader.