Originally written on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 10/20/14
KANSAS CITY, Mo. With the trade of Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati last summer and the Royals' decision to pass on Joakim Soria's contract option last week, the path has been cleared for Greg Holland to become the Royals' closer perhaps for years to come. But Holland, 26, isn't exactly relieved they're gone. "Sure, I'd love to be the closer for years," he said in a teleconference call Tuesday. "But I'd love to have both of those guys back. I don't manage (the roster) or know how all that works but they were great to have here. "I learned a lot from them. They're quiet guys, and you never knew whether they won or they lost, but I could learn just from watching them and how they went about their jobs." Holland evidently learned quite a bit. He made 67 appearances with the Royals in 2012 and finished with a 2.96 ERA and 16 saves. He also struck out 91 in 67 innings. Those numbers made him a rather easy choice as the Royals' Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year, an honor bestowed upon him Tuesday. "I feel pretty great about that," Holland said. "I'm proud of how I came back after struggling out of the gate and coming back from injuries. I felt responsible for losing a bunch of games early." As Holland was dealing with rib and back issues, his command suffered in April and the results weren't pretty he had a whopping 11.37 ERA through the first seven games before he finally went on the disabled list. When Holland came back, he was simply phenomenal. Over his next 16 appearances, he was nicked for just one run. It got even better. After Broxton was traded and Holland inherited the closer's job, he gave up just one run in 14 13 innings in the month of August while going 9-for-9 in save situations. He also picked up two wins. "When I was hurt, I really couldn't drive to the bottom of the mound," Holland said. "That means I wasn't finishing my pitches and you know what happens when pitches get elevated they get hit. "But once I talked to the trainers and I felt healthy again, I was able to drive off my pitches again. Plus, we made a small mechanical change I stopped finishing so violently to the first-base side. It's something I talked to Luke (Hochevar) about and he agreed completely. Then I talked to (pitching coach) Dave (Eiland) about it and he said he'd been wanting me to change that from the beginning. "But sometimes it takes hearing it from other people to make that change." Holland's new delivery made him a dominant closer, but having the job hasn't changed his mindset this off-season. "Not really," he said. "I think closing (games) is as hard as you make it. It's a hard job but I now that when I was pitching out of jams in the sixth or seventh innings, it was just as hard some times. A lot of times I didn't have a three-run lead to work with. It is what you make of it." Holland said he doesn't necessarily pattern himself after any one closer, though he has a lot of respect for guys like Soria, Broxton and, of course, Mariano Rivera. "With (Rivera), he makes it look so easy," Holland said. "And believe me, it's not easy. But I also respect the fact that guys like him have done it so well for so many years. "A lot of guys with really good stuff can do it for two or three years but they can't keep going the way someone like Rivera has. That's amazing." Holland will be a key component to one of the top bullpens in baseball again in 2013, and while he admits he doesn't keep close tabs on the Royals' off-season moves, he feels this team is scary close to being a playoff contender. "I haven't followed a whole lot of what we're doing," he said. "After the season, I kind of go into my own shell. But I do know we got (Ervin) Santana.... "I just think we're really close. If every guy just makes a little adjustment here and there, that's all it takes to turn this around. It can happen fast."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Robert Klemko given four-week suspension from The MMQB

Michael Vick: Percy Harvin won't be a monster here

Robert Griffin III 'guaranteed' to be back in Week 11

Urlacher: Cutler paid like elite QB, hasn’t produced like one

Hoyer doesn’t think about getting benched for Manziel

Cardinals kicker blew $1,500 signing bonus on headphones

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ainge: Draft lottery reform would be 'better for the game'

Royals take Game 2 to even series with Giants

Report: Roger Goodell will have to testify in Ray Rice case

Blake Griffin accused of slapping man in Las Vegas club

Ronda Rousey to face Cat Zingano at UFC 182

Report: Zach Mettenberger to start for Titans over Locker

Louisville Athletic Dept. asking for donations at gas pump

Falcons make huge mistake with London infographic

DeMarco Murry surprises Cowboys linemen with iMacs

Jimbo Fisher's son reps for Winston on 'Superhero Day'

WATCH: Steve Ballmer freaks out while shown on Jumbotron

AUDIO: Rex Ryan pranks Sammy Watkins on conference call

Top storyline for each Week 8 NFL game

WATCH: Giants pitcher yells at Salvador Perez after HR

Will Muschamp's head coaching job posted on Craigslist

Miss California USA would like to date Eric Hosmer

WATCH: Eric Bledsoe sends Clipper flying with sick move

Kiffin's mom fears for son's safety in return to Tennessee

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Brian Urlacher rips Jay Cutler

Top NFL storylines: Week 8

Kiffin's mom worried for son's safety

Report: Goodell will have to testify

Penguins do 'O Canada' following tragedy

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Porn star: No one parties like Janikowski

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

The San Francisco Giants are zombies

10 bold predictions for NFL Week 8

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.