Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Yankee Closer Clay Holmes On A Historic Run


Clay Holmes after closing out last Thursday's win in Minnesota. @Yankees.

Yankees reliever Clay Holmes has become one of the most dominant pitchers in Major League Baseball this season, so much so that when closer Aroldis Chapman went to the injured list on May 24, there was no question who would step into the role.

Holmes earned his tenth save of the season on Tuesday night, as he closed out the Yankees' 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays to open their three-game series at Yankee Stadium.

The right-hander has not allowed a run in his last 27 appearances (and 29.0 innings pitched) since April 9. The scoreless inning streak is the longest in the Majors this season, and the longest in his career. 

"He's been, I think, beyond great to this point," Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of Holmes on Wednesday afternoon. "A special run that he's on - efficient, dominant, however you want to describe it, he's in a really good place obviously, with tremendous stuff and going out there 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 definitely been fun to watch him do his thing."

According to Elias, it is the second-longest single-season scoreless streak by a Yankees pitcher in the last 33 seasons (dating back to 1990) and the third-longest streak in the last 50 years. It is no surprise who the pitcher is in the more recent timeframe: Mariano Rivera, who had a 30.2-inning streak from July 22 to October 2, 1999. The other pitcher is the big lefty Lee Guetterman, who also had a 30.2-inning streak from April 6 to May 24, 1989.

Holmes' ERA (earned run-average) is just 0.30, as he has allowed just one run in 29.0 innings pitched, and it is the second-lowest for a Yankees pitcher in their first 28 games of a season, behind only Dellin Betances, who had a 0.29 ERA in 2015. (ERA did't become an official stat until 1913.) 

The Yankees acquired Holmes at the trade deadline from Pittsburgh last season, and he put up good numbers the final two months as the Yankees made a run for a playoff berth: 25 games, 28.0 innings pitched, 18 hits, 8 runs (5 earned), 2 home runs, 4 walks, 34 strikeouts, with an ERA of 1.61 and a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 0.786.

Boone was asked if he sees a difference in Holmes from then to now, and he said, "Not a ton because he was pretty darned good with us. I remember, again going back to him debuting in Tampa (on July 29, 2021, when he pitched a scoreless eighth in a 14-0 Tampa Bay win). We put him in, and it was like, 'let's get him in here,' and it was like, I remember all of us, myself and Matt (Blake, pitching coach), and Hark (Mike Harkey, bullpen coach), kind of like, 'wow, that's pretty good,' and it was pretty shortly thereafter that he was finding himself in bog situations, and obviously became a huge part of our bullpen last year, was dominant, and has probably taken it to another level this year, where I think it's just he had his first taste of pennant race and real big success, I think had a great winter, and now you're just seeing a polished reliever in his prime with great stuff."

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