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Buffa: Why the return of Greg Holland may not be a great idea

Greg Holland didn't show enough in the minors to convince me he can get three outs in an inning at the Major League level. Whatever he had in September is now missing, and who knows if he will get it back.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SPORTS

Greg Holland isn't ready to contribute to the Major Leagues, yet for some reason the St. Louis Cardinals are taking him to Philadelphia. Like the extra suitcase that you have to acquire special tags for and pay extra to bring along.

Let me just say this is not a good idea and one that doesn't make much sense no matter how you slice it up.

Rushing back isn't a good plan, especially when you have pitched the way he has. Holland compiled a 7.20 ERA in work split between Springfield and Memphis, with just ONE clean outing. He walked too many batters, gave up a homer, and didn't look that great facing young guns or older journeyman ballplayers. Rehabbing players get up to 30 days in the minors, and Holland needed 31 days to be right-yet here he is, coming back already. The prodigal son that few wanted to see return.

Holland allowed four earned runs, five hits, five walks, and struck out four in his rehab stint. Add that to the 15 walks and 9.45 ERA with the Cardinals this season-and it could spell disaster.

I don't believe for a second that Holland suffered from a right hip impingement. He was suffering from pitching-terrible-itis, or something that a doctor can prescribe weeks of rest and minor league pitching for. When asked about the idea of Holland returning, manager Mike Matheny said a conversation with the former closer made him believe he had found "it" during the rehab. If "it" means putting too many runners on base in Double-A, he sure did come up with something.

Let's imagine that conversation:

Holland: Mike, I believe I have found what I was missing.

Matheny: The missing sweater from the Pittsburgh series?

Holland: No, I found my groove on the mound. I think I am ready to return and do some damage.

Matheny: Oh yeah, what kind of damage?

Holland: Getting outs variety.

Matheny (moves chess piece across board and smiles): Well, heck, I'm convinced. Let me ask Maddux.

(Matheny looks over at a sleeping Mike Maddux.)

Matheny: Yep, he's ecstatic, Greg. Let's get you up to Philadelphia.

Holland: Great.

Humor aside, here's the painful reality: Holland gets to decide when he returns. With helpful assistance from the impeccable Brian Walton from The Cardinal Nation, Holland has the control over the duration of his rehab stint, not the Cardinals. You can thank a nugget in the new CBA that was agreed upon between the players and owners for that.

Let's get practical with this, folks. There's no room for Holland to bring grenades to the mound. The Cardinals have lost four of their past five games, and their bullpen is fragile to begin with. Bringing in Holland will only make matters worse.

Should he be in there over Sam Tuivailala? Nope.

What about John Brebbia? No way.

Jordan Hicks and Bud Norris? Find medication, because the answer is still no.

Austin Gomber? Nope.

Brett Cecil? Debatable, but still a no.

Greg Holland didn't show enough in the minors to convince me he can get three outs in an inning at the Major League level. Whatever he had in September is now missing, and who knows if he will get it back. Taking bets on whether Dexter Fowler or Holland recover their mojo could be a thing, but I'd still put good action on the former Cub regaining a pulse. Maybe there was a reason every other team stayed away from Holland through the entire offseason after he rejected the Colorado Rockies' offer.

If Holland had went down there and diced up hitters, the thought process would be different. If I truly believed he was injured and needed to work through something, it would be different. He's still struggling to throw strikes, get ahead of hitters, and put them away.

He needed more time and won't get it, thanks to his own brash thinking. Knowing Matheny, he will be out there in a late and close game on Monday or Tuesday, ready to blow someone's game. He could be down in Memphis working on his stuff for a late season surge. The guy coming back isn't one a struggling baseball team needs. Holland isn't right just yet-and being a veteran pitcher, he should know best. Returning too soon is simply hurting the team.

Here's the good news: Holland's fate will be decided quickly. He either returns and miraculously regains the efficiency he showed the past four years-or he gets lit up like a bottle rockets this week on the road. Hitter's ballparks will bring that brand of clarity very quickly.

I hope Holland proves me wrong, but I wouldn't count or bet on it.

Thanks for reading,

DLB