Holland closes out Tribe despite dip in velocity

Yost not questioning closer role, has 'a little bit of concern'

Holland closes out Tribe despite dip in velocity

CLEVELAND -- The fastball from Royals closer Greg Holland used to hover in the 96-97 mph range. But as the season has worn on, that fastball continues to diminish in velocity.

For the third straight outing, Holland's fastball sat in the 89-91 mph range, though he did reach back and rip a 93-mph fastball past Cleveland's Giovanny Urshela to end the game in a 2-0 triumph Tuesday night.

When Holland's velocity dropped earlier this season, he almost always was able to get it back to 96 mph. That doesn't appear to be the case anymore.

"There's a little bit of concern," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You have to look at a closer's mentality and he's got that. He's got the heart of a lion."

No one will dispute that. Holland gutted it out with an almost unhittable slider that peaked at 86 mph, actually above his usual velocity for that pitch.

"His slider is really good," Yost said, adding that Holland likely can survive just on that pitch.

Yost has said repeatedly lately that Holland has no structural damage in his right shoulder or arm, though Holland has been sat down because of soreness several times.

"I think it's from the pounding physically over the years," Yost said. "We're at the end of the season now ... even last year his velocity dropped down at the end but then look at what he did in the postseason."

Yost isn't about to move Holland out of the closer's role mainly for the obvious reason -- Holland is succeeding at it. Tuesday, Holland got his 31st save in 35 opportunities.

"It's a day-to-day thing," Yost said. "We'll keep evaluating. But every time we put Holly out there, he gets the job done."

Holland was unavailable after the game.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.