Super reliever Clay Holmes will continue to face the ‘toughest parts’ of opposing rosters – The Denver Post


Clay Holmes extended his scoreless innings streak to 30 on Wednesday night, earning his 11th career save in the Yankees’ 4-3 win over the Rays at Stadium.

With Aroldis Chapman closing in on a return from the injured list, it will be interesting to see how the Yankees use Holmes in the closest comeback. Before Chapman suffered the Achilles injury, Aaron Boone was quicker to use Holmes in the higher moments of leverage against the tougher parts of the formation.

And that may be the best way to use it in the future.

“I kind of think about everything,” Boone said of Holmes’ role in Chapman’s return. “As [Tuesday] tonight, I would have potentially used Holmes in the eighth inning. If properly aligned it would have been the top of that range and I hadn’t used [Wandy] Peralta already for the middle. I was ready to go Clay in the eighth.

“So he will close some games as well,” Boone continued. “Basically, he’s going to be in a lot of the toughest parts of the lineup. So whether it’s round eight, round nine, we’ll just try to match it as best we can.

Holmes has been the Yankees’ most reliable reliever this season. He hasn’t had a team score on him in the last 30 innings he pitched, closing in on a franchise record set by Mariano Rivera (30.2 innings) in 1999. In 29 appearances, 30.2 total innings pitched this season. Holmes allowed an earned run for a .29 ERA, the second best ERA in a pitcher’s first 29 games of a season behind only Dellin Betances.

His lead is heavy with a “wiffle ball motion” that is similar to a southpaw and a fastball speed that sits at 96.7 mph but can hit 100. He generates a ridiculous amount of harmless ground balls. His ground ball rate is an incredible 81.6% and his fly ball rate is an impressive 5%.

“It’s just direct dominance,” Aaron Judge said. “Every time he comes out there. I feel like the game is over. He just attacks the strike zone. The movement on all his pitches is just unbeatable. I’m kind of on him after some of his past outings, ‘Hey man, you gotta get me some work there. I just sit there and take a nap when he comes into the game. But it’s fun to play behind and he’ll go out there and give it your all and you’re gonna be a tough bat.

The Yankees knew he had talent when they acquired him from the Pirates last July. They made some adjustments with his lead, targeting him higher so his misses weren’t so outside of the strike zone, reducing his walk rate. While his 9-per-run innings were never below three in four seasons with the Pirates, they were never above 1.3 with the Yankees. He’s 0.9 right now, having walked just three of the 113 batters he’s faced. He struck out 32 for a career-high 28.4 percent strikeout rate.

“I think he’s been more than great so far. Special race that he’s efficient, dominant as you want to describe him,” Boone said. “He’s obviously in a really good position, with some great stuff and with a lot of confidence, I think, because of that stuff and the confidence in his game plan and his ability to execute. And it’s been really fun watching him do his thing.


The Yankees improved to 30 games above .500 on Wednesday. They are only the fourth major league team in the past 67 years to win at least 46 of their first 62 games in a season and only the seventh major league team since 1930. They joined the Mariners in 2001 , 1939, 1953 and 1998 Yankees, 1984 Tigers and 1955 Dodgers to do so.

Judge isn’t really interested in standing at the 62-game point.

“I think we are more focused on the next game. The record and what we’ve done so far is great, but what makes this team special, as I said, is that tonight is over and we’re going to celebrate that, but we’ll have another one big tomorrow.

“We have to go out there and try to sweep.”



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