Sunday, May 22, 2022


Source: Associated Press

It is a pleasure to watch the Yankees over the last few weeks. They are scoring runs. They are swinging the bat well. Their defense has been spot on, including their pitching. My only anxiety is when I see Aroldis Chapman warming up in the pen. Chapman seemingly has picked up where he left off from last season—unable to focus when he puts a runner on first then loading up the bases with walks. He throws hard but when he is not on, he loses games the Yankees should have won. Yet, on the flip side, when I see cool and calm Clay Holmes take the mound in a challenging situation, I see someone who is ready, focused and unfazed by anything other than the batter in front of him. He is already making a difference in his secondary closer role, but what if he was the closer. Can Clay Holmes steal the closer role from Chapman?

“I think in a lot of ways, he’s simplified things,” Boone said. “We talk about intelligence and he’s a smart guy that understands all the tools available to pitchers these days, how to take that stuff and how to apply it and how to benefit from it. Some guys get overwhelmed by it. Some guys don’t apply it the right way. I feel he’s done all that," reported Boone is referring to the work that Holmes has put into his pitching, which is paying off in a big way for the right hander. 

This season, Clay Holmes has just been stellar. In fact, he’s been one of the most consistent relievers in baseball going 4-0 with an 0.44 ERA. He also has one of the nastiest pitches in the sport— 96-to-98 mph slider. I have been incredibly impressed with his presence when he comes into the game, which as a set up man, is often a situation with guys on base threatening to score. He has command and poise, staring down hitters and performing his craft with great accuracy and precision. 

Source: Sports Illustrated

"A problem for opposing hitters, Holmes might be stealing the Yankees’ closer job from Aroldis Chapman, who had a couple of bad slumps last season and recently has fallen into another. Chapman is a free agent after the season and no lock to return, while Holmes, 29, has two more years of team control. Thus a switch in roles this year for Holmes could last at least a couple of years," wrote

Source: NY Post

The transformation of Holmes is similar to what we are seeing in his counterpart in the starting rotation, Nestor Cortes. Ironically, Holmes saved Cortes's game in Saturday's 7-5 win over the White Sox. Essentially,  Holmes went from a .5.57 ERA when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2018-21 to virtually unhittable with the Yankees thanks to tweaks to his mechanics that have kept the walks out of his stats and built more confidence to just mix up his stuff, including his lethal sinker.

Source: Sports Illustrated

Holmes will likely see more action with Yankee bullpen ace Chad Green on the IL. And as he steps in more regularly, he will build even more confidence, which is all part of the package of a closing pitcher or for any pitcher for that matter. This is an area where Chapman has really suffered, hurting his performance and his dependability out of the pen.


Can Clay Holmes steal the closer role? Yes. That may very well be the plan with Chapman likely exiting next season. If Holmes can stay healthy and can keep dealing his nasty stuff, we may very well see him in more and more closing stints this season, setting him up for a great future as the regular closer and potentially an All Star this season. 

--Suzie Pinstripe
BYB Senior Managing Editor
Twitter: @suzieprof

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