The New York Yankees bullpen is in a bit of an odd place at the moment. Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga, two of the most reliable relievers in recent memory, are struggling to even throw strikes, and Chad Green has been lost for the year with elbow ligament damage.
Luis Gil, a prospect who could have been of use as a spot starter or potential reliever will undergo Tommy John surgery, too. In the middle of the tough times, one particular Yankees’ reliever has been lights out.
Clay Holmes, who came to the Yankees last year via trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been one of the best relievers in MLB this year. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since April 9 (!) and has a 0.42 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 21.2 frames.
Could Holmes be the next Yankees closer?
The Athletic’s Jim Bowden says Holmes helps soften the blow of losing Green and Gil for the rest of the season (link to NJ Advance Media article here): “Clay Holmes is 4-0 with a 0.42 ERA in a league leading 20 appearances pitching 21.1 IP with just 13 H 1 R 2 BB and 21 SO and has quickly become one of the games best overall relievers not named (Josh) Hader.”
When the Yankees acquired him, he was a 29-year-old journeyman with control issues and a career 5.57 ERA. But the Bombers prompted him to throw strikes and let the natural movement of his pitches do the job for him, and he has taken off since then.
As a Yankee, Holmes has a 1.09 ERA over 45 appearances. He is firmly at the top of Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone’s pecking order, and has earned four saves so far. If the Yanks decide it’s time to give Chapman a bit of a breather from the closer role, Holmes may be a worthy candidate to take over as the new fireman.