Yankees’ closer is putting together a truly special start to the season

MLB: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees, clay holmes
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Despite numerous injuries impacting their bullpen, the New York Yankees have managed to maintain the best ERA in Major League Baseball at 2.49. They lead the league with 18 saves and have allowed only 116 hits, ranking second only to the Seattle Mariners. This stellar performance has been crucial in supporting a starting rotation that has seen its share of challenges.

Clay Holmes: An Elite Year for the Yankees’ Closer

Central to the bullpen’s success is closer Clay Holmes, who is currently navigating a contract year with exceptional results. Coming off a robust 2023 season where he posted a 2.86 ERA over 63 innings, Holmes has consistently delivered performances that surpass expectations, maintaining a sub-3.00 ERA for two consecutive years.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Sep 30, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Clay Holmes (35) pitches during the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

This season, however, may be his best yet. Holmes has secured 13 saves and is on track to exceed his career-high of 24. He boasts a flawless 0.00 ERA across 20 innings, complemented by a 1.75 FIP, and an impressive 10.35 strikeouts per nine innings. His 85.7% left on-base rate and 68.6% ground ball rate further demonstrate his dominance on the mound, and with career-low walks per nine at 1.80 and no home runs allowed this season, his metrics are exceptional.

Given his outstanding performance, Holmes is poised for a substantial free-agent contract, though the Yankees might find themselves priced out as they look to unearth another hidden gem. Pitching coach Matt Blake has a knack for finding value in overlooked players, having brought Holmes into the fold from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a minimal cost several years ago.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays, clay holmes, jose trevino
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Holmes’ pitch arsenal this season includes a sinker averaging 96.2 mph with a .286 batting average against, and a slider and sweeper that have been virtually unhittable. Both pitches have maintained a .000 batting average against, with his slider generating a 54.8% whiff rate and his sweeper achieving a 60% whiff rate. These pitches are some of the most effective in the league, exhibiting significant movement—18% more vertical on the slider and 21% more horizontal on the sweeper.

As the Yankees prepare for an upcoming three-game series against the Seattle Mariners, they not only boast a formidable asset in Holmes but are also anticipating additional reinforcements. Holmes’ perfect ERA over 20 innings stands as a testament to his skill and precision, signaling that his pace is unlikely to wane as the season progresses.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: