Derek Holland stronger, more confident

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A more confident Derek Holland will take the mound tonight looking to solve the Los Angeles Angels, a team he's lost to twice this season and one that is desperate for wins. This time around he feels better prepared mentally and stronger physically, notions that are solidified by a recent hot streak.

"It's a good time to get things going," Holland said. "I've had to deal with injuries and just being able to bounce back, recover and get into the swing of things has been huge for me. But I still feel like I've got work to do. This would be a good start, going up against these guys. The next three starts are very important starts."

Holland has turned in five straight quality starts, a stretch that has given him more assurance lately. Is he a better pitcher now than the first two times he faced the Angels, on July 20 and 31, when he surrendered 12 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings? That's not really a question.

"I've gotten a lot more stronger," Holland said. "I've definitely made better pitches the last few starts. I've gotten a lot more confident than the last time they saw me. Stronger, more confident, just overall a better pitcher than I was before."

He credits the improvement to his command of the strike zone and ability to locate out pitches. Holland (10-6, 4.50 ERA) has also gained back, by his estimation, 10 pounds he lost earlier this year while battling a stomach virus.

"I was still recovering from everything, trying to get that weight back," Holland said. "I'm not saying it's going to make a huge difference. I'm not sitting here saying I'm going to come out [Wednesday] and be lights out, but I feel very confident. I've done my research and stuff, but I've still got to make my pitches."

That he'll be opposed for the first time by former teammate and good friend C.J. Wilson (12-9, 3.73) doesn't add any incentive.

"I'm not worried about C.J. or anything like that. I shouldn't have to be," Holland said. "I don't really worry about them. I think my offense will do what they need to do, and I've got to make sure I do my part."

"He's on the other team, and I want to beat them."