The New York Yankees have a tremendous bullpen on paper, but every unit has its fair share of ups and downs. On Thursday, the Yankees were tremendous in most categories, notably Gerrit Cole and the relief arms that helped finish the game and stifle any San Francisco Giants comeback attempt. However, they struggled considerably on Saturday afternoon after Clarke Schmidt was pulled from the game following a difficult 4th inning.
While the bullpen has plenty of notable arms, the closer position could still be up for grabs early in 2023. With Aroldis Chapman taking his talents to Kansas City and the Yankees seemingly turning their attention toward Clay Holmes, there’s an argument to make that one youngster should be in the mix, given his mental fortitude and obvious talent.
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The Yankees may hand the closer spot to Ron Marinaccio one day:
When the Yankees closed out their opening day victory, it wasn’t Holmes that got the call it was Ron Marinaccio, a 27-year-old entering the second season of his career.
Comparably, Marinaccio pitched two scoreless innings to finish the game with ease, whereas Holmes allowed two earned runs and three hits in less than an inning in his first action this season.
Holmes is a very talented pitcher that has a tremendous sinker, but when he’s failing to locate, things can get a bit dicey. When he was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021, the Yankees saw a tremendous version of Clay, posting a 1.61 ERA across 28 innings. He followed it up with a 2.54 ERA across 63.2 innings last season, having a truly dominant first half of the year.
However, an injury after the All-Star break deteriorated his number significantly. On Saturday, his velocity was in line with his average of 2022 regarding his sinker, but he couldn’t get good location on it, allowing the Giants to elevate the ball and hit for contact.
We haven’t seen the dominant version of Holmes since the first half of 2022, meaning the Yankees should consider utilizing him in non-save situations, which manager Aaron Boone indicated over the weekend.
Marinaccio has lethal stuff to boot, including one of the best change-ups on the team, if not in baseball. Marinaccio posted a 2.05 ERA last year across 44 innings with 11.45 strikeouts per nine. The kid simply has ice in his veins and is capable of stepping into high-level situations and coming out unscathed.
Even if Holmes gets back into shape, the Yankees may have their long-term closer in Marinaccio, and he is ready to feature as a primary relief arm.