Holland is Back with the Cardinals Because He Wants to Be

photo: Mike Matheny and Greg Holland (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

There is a lot of fan angst, and in some quarters, anger, over the impending return of Greg Holland to the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen. Much of it is misdirected at the team’s front office for bringing the struggling former closer back from his minor league rehab stint before he appears to be right.

Greg Holland (St. Louis Cardinals)

Based on their comments, many do not seem to understand the limited options the Cardinals have with the Scott Boras client.

The 32-year old went on the disabled list on May 26 with what was called a hip impingement. After a week off, Holland began throwing bullpens before embarking on a 10-day rehab period between Triple-A Memphis and Double-A Springfield, designed to coincide with when both clubs were playing at home.

That stint concluded on Saturday after Holland threw on consecutive nights and the Springfield club headed out on the road. (As a general practice, rehabbing major leaguers are not asked to travel with their temporary club.)

For a major leaguer to go to the minors on rehab at all, he must first agree to both the assignment as well as its pre-determined duration. Though the maximum rehab is defined to be 30 days for pitchers – the length of the actual stay is negotiated, not dictated by the team. The rules for this are clearly laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement in place between players and owners.

Holland’s rehab mound results were uneven to say the least. In five appearances totaling five innings, the right-hander yielded five hits, five walks and four earned runs for a 7.20 ERA and 2.00 WHIP. He struck out four minor leaguers.

Holland has told the Cardinals that “he’s figuring it out,” words relayed by manager Mike Matheny on Sunday.

Since Holland thinks he is ready and his rehab is up, he has the right to return. It is that simple.

If you don’t like it and have to blame someone, blame Holland.

The Cardinals’ other choices going forward:

  • Option to the minors. Based on his MLB service time, Holland does not have to accept being optioned out.
  • Release. The Cardinals would be on the hook for the remainder of his $14 million contract.
  • Trade. St. Louis would likely have to eat most of his remaining salary and get little in return.
  • New injury/new DL move/new minor league rehab stint. To become injured again, he is going to have to pitch in real games. And even if there is another rehab, Holland has veto power in its timing and duration.

The Cardinals can control how Holland will be used with St. Louis, though. They would be most wise to keep him out of high leverage situations and hope he can begin to show improvement. Otherwise, as explained above, the next steps are very limited.


Late Monday afternoon from Philadelphia, Cardinals general manager Mike Girsch spoke about the Holland situation.

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