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Derek Holland's command and control issues (plus a poll)

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Bad Derek Holland showed up yesterday, walking four batters in 2 2/3 innings and giving up a three run bomb to Ryan Raburn (the only three runs the Tigers scored yesterday).

FanGraphs has an interesting piece up on their site, looking at Holland's strike/ball plot yesterday and heat maps showing where his pitches have gone all season. Not surprisingly, the heat maps suggest that Holland leaves too many pitches in the middle of the zone.

The whole thing is worth checking out, particularly the graphics, which highlight some of the Holland issues, but the conclusion sums it up well:

But one thing does emerge while looking at all these heat maps. Control is usually divided into the ability to keep the ball in the strike zone and the ability to hit spots within the strike zone. If Holland’s inability to hit the strike zone was on display Monday, the story of his season was one about his inability to avoid the middle of the zone. He had an above-average walk rate, and yet he gave up more home runs than the average pitcher and surrendered 201 hits. The spots within the zone can be just as important, if not more, than throwing strikes.

Holland’s got a bright future. He might even grow a grown-up mustache some day. But the heights that he will reach will depend mostly on his ability to avoid drifting too close to the center of the zone.

This is one of those instances where the statistical data dovetails what those of us who have watched Holland throughout his major league career have observed -- Holland's erraticism derives from his inability to consistently command his pitches. That results in FIP and xFIP numbers that can be deceiving, since when his command is off, he leaves more pitches out over the plate, and ends up giving up more line drives (which elevates his BABIP) and more gopher balls.

Holland turned 25 on Sunday, and has 414 major league innings under his belt (including the postseason). Excuses have been made for him by his apologists among the fans and media (and there are quite a few) based on his age and his lack of experience, and that we need to be patient and give him time to blossom into a legit top-of-the-rotation starter, a true #2 guy in the rotation.

But it may very well be that Holland is what he is, a guy who will tease with his ability to dominate when everything goes right, but who will never consistently be able to maintain that level of performance.

In any case...after Holland's meltdown yesterday and Scott Feldman's yeoman's work cleaning up the mess, I facetiously asked on Twitter whether it is too early to suggest Feldman start in Game 6. In light of the responses, I thought it was worth putting up a poll on that issue...

So cast your vote below...who do you think should start Game 6 in the ALCS (assuming there is one)? Derek Holland or Scott Feldman?