Yankees’ relief pitcher dramatically turned his season around

yankees, Clay Holmes
Apr 12, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Clay Holmes (35) throws a pitch during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

For anyone closely following Clay Holmes’s career with the New York Yankees, it would be evident that his journey resembles a roller-coaster ride.

Upon arriving in the Bronx in the summer of 2021, Holmes exhibited an impressive performance, recording a 1.61 ERA over 28 innings. He maintained this high standard until he faced a challenging second half in 2022.

His performance in 2023 has also seen some fluctuations. However, recently, the sinkerballer seems to have regained his footing, resembling the effective reliever the Yankees acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021.

Although Holmes has struggled with walks occasionally (his rate stands at 4.26 bases on balls per nine innings this year), his 2.84 ERA suggests he has been a valuable asset to the Yankees. He substantiates this with a remarkable 2.41 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), a 53.1 percent ground ball rate, and 11.37 strikeouts per nine innings over 25.1 innings in 2023.

However, Holmes’s recent performances indicate a marked improvement.

Over his last 15 appearances, dating back to May 6, Holmes has permitted just one earned run over 15.1 innings, resulting in an extraordinarily low ERA of 0.59. His FIP of 2.04 during this period further signifies a notable enhancement in his performance. Before this period, from the start of the season until May 3, Holmes had a higher ERA of 6.30.

Holmes is looking like a power pitcher and the Yankees are pleased

One could argue that Holmes has opted for more strikeouts at the cost of some ground, and this strategy seems to be effective. In his last 15 games, covering 15.1 innings with the Yankees, he boasts a 7/20 BB/K ratio.

Holmes has been showcasing his slider more frequently in recent outings, and the outcome has been superb. Previously, he relied heavily on his sinker (more than 80 percent), but in his last 15 games, his sinker-slider combination has evolved to a 63-37 percent split. He has also adjusted his slider to improve its capacity to induce swings and misses.

Overall, Holmes is regaining his status as a dependable late-game pitcher for the Yankees. This wasn’t consistently the case in 2023, but it represents a positive evolution for a team striving to exert some pressure on the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles at the top of the AL East.

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