Holland sharp, notches second straight save

Holland sharp, notches second straight save

MILWAUKEE -- Rockies closer Greg Holland has no idea if his pitches are back to the level of a couple years ago before Tommy John surgery. He doesn't care.

Two games into the season, Holland has two saves -- the latest a spotless, two-strikeout effort in Tuesday night's 6-5 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.

"Getting people out -- it's pretty simple," Holland said. "I'm not a big thinker when it comes to stuff concerning baseball. They ask me to hold a lead, and that's my job.

"Long as we win games and I'm feeling healthy, that's how I evaluate."

Holland, 31, notched 125 saves for the Royals from 2013-15 before Tommy John surgery knocked him out of a postseason that saw the Royals win the World Series. Holland sat out in '16 before signing a one-year, $7 million contract with the Rockies that's heavy on incentives for durability and ability to close.

Holland and lefty Mike Dunn (three years, $19 million), who fanned three Brewers looking in the eighth inning, so far have the makings of wise investments. Dunn has fanned five of the six hitters he has faced.

Dunn strikes out the side

"We know these fellows are capable of what they did the last two nights," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I've seen it first hand. [General manager] Jeff [Bridich] and our scouts have seen it. Hopefully, this can continue. It's early in the year, but we know the track record of these two fellows."

In two games, Rockies relievers have gone 8 1/3 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts. Some of it may have been helped by the strikeout-prone Brewers, who have fanned 28 times over the two games.

"We'll take five runs a night," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We'll be all right scoring five runs a night."

"It's having the internal competition to do the best we can and push each other," Dunn said. "That's the goal: Good pitching breeds good pitching."

Added Holland: "If you want to be good, you have to take a unit sort of approach. Everybody in the bullpen is one piece. We take pride in getting starters wins and getting them out of jams when they get deep in games."

Having Holland as a ninth-inning anchor helps that confidence grow. And Holland is establishing an interesting early pattern.

On Monday, Holland walked the leadoff hitter and needed a diving play from third baseman Nolan Arenado on a Ryan Braun grounder to start the game-ending double play. On Tuesday, he once again climbed above 95 mph with his fastball, but he mixed in some sliders and a curveball to look sharper than Monday.

Holland, Arenado end the game

That's exactly what happened in Spring Training the one time Holland threw on consecutive days.

"I didn't have a great feel for my off-speed pitches yesterday, for whatever reason," Holland said. "Today was a little bit better commanding secondary pitches.

"I feel healthy. I fully expect to do what they ask of me. I'm not worried about getting back to a certain level. I just want to be successful here today."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.