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St. Louis Cardinals remove Holland from closer role

The St. Louis Cardinals made a big change to their bullpen Tuesday night. The team removed Greg Holland as their closer. Holland signed with the Cardinals on opening day on a one year contract worth $14 million. His performance from the start of the season hasn’t been good and the Cardinals felt it was time to make a change.

A three-time all-star, Holland was suppose to fill a key role with the pitching staff. He’s recorded 166 saves from 2013 to 2017. A career-high 47 save performance in 2013 made led him to emerge as on of baseball’s top closers in 2013. Holland missed the entire 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He came back strong in 2017 with 41 saves and a 1.15 whip. This season has been a struggle for Holland though. In ten games, he has failed to secure a save this season. A 7.36 era and eight walks in only 7 1/3 innings forced St. Louis to make a move.

Bud Norris will take over close duties for at least the time being. So far this season, Norris has been a perfect five out of five on save opportunities. Add in a 1.88 era and 12.6 K/9 this season, and this decision was an easy one for the Cardinals. The numbers are a little surprising if compared to his ten-year MLB career. He was unimpressive as a starter, but has shown flashes of being a solid reliever.

The move makes perfect sense for the Cardinals, but it’s unknown whether this can be a permanent decision. Norris served as an interim closer with the Angels last season and wasn’t that great. It’s possible that sending Gregg Holland down to Triple-A for a few games may help. A late start in getting ready for this season may be the cause behind his early struggles. St. Louis is in third place in the NL Central with a 16-12 record. The division has been tight throughout the first month of the MLB season. That makes it more critical to get those close wins.