Cody Allen of the Indians and Greg Holland of the Rockies are the first recipients of the American League and National League Relievers of the Month presented by The Hartford, respectively, as Major League Baseball on Wednesday introduced its new monthly honor that will go to the best reliever in each league.
Allen made 10 appearances out of Cleveland's bullpen in April -- and he converted all six save opportunities and struck out 20 with only one walk and one run -- as the defending AL champion finished the month on top of its division. Allen's knuckle-curve has been especially frustrating to hitters, as batters were 1-for-14 with 11 strikeouts when that was the final pitch.
"His breaking ball right now is as good as we've seen it," Indians manager Terry Francona said after last Thursday's game against the Astros, when Allen escaped a jam by striking out Brian McCann with the pitch. "In the past, it's taken him a while to find that when the season [has] started."
Holland was 11-for-11 in save opportunities in April, tying Brian Fuentes (May 2007) and Huston Street (June '09) for most saves in a month in Rockies history and helping Colorado finish the month on top of the NL West. It was the kind of dominance Holland had in Kanas City from '13-15 (125 saves) before being replaced by Wade Davis as the Royals' closer late in their '15 title season and missing '16 after Tommy John surgery.
"Right now, this early in the season, I'm in a good spot," said Holland, whose top velocity is back up around 96 mph. "I'm not worried about what I looked like two or three years ago. I'm worried about being the best version of me, right now, that I can be."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.