DUNEDEN, Fla. — For three months, the 2022 Yankees seemed to fade as one of the greatest baseball teams of all time. They are on pace to match or break his major league record of 116 wins, and an even bigger accomplishment, winning their first World Series title since 2009.
Instead, they failed to win 100 games before being swept by the Astros in the ALCS. Identifying all of the reasons would require a loaded roster of forensic investigators. But one player embodied his 2022 Yankees bizarre story arc just as much as the others. Clay Holmes. He was Mariano Rivera for the first half of the season, but was well below that in the second half.
Holmes made an All-Star team in his first full season in the Bronx and, before the break, looked nothing like the 5.57 ERA pitcher the Pirates traded. When Yankees manager Aaron Boone broke the news to him that he was heading to Los Angeles for the Midsummer Classic, Holmes replied, “I’m happy to be a Yankee.”
Like Rivera’s cutter, Holmes’ sinker was a formidable weapon… until it wasn’t.
The first sign of real trouble came on July 12, after Holmes converted on 16 of his 18 save opportunities. He imploded in his ninth inning, turning his 3-0 lead over the Reds into his 4-3 loss, puffing his 0.46 ERA to his more human 1.37. rice field. In August, Holmes landed on injured reserve with a cramp in his hip after allowing three saves and seven runs in five appearances. The bullpen, which had already lost Chad Green and Michael King during the season, was suddenly devastated.
Holmes later overcame the strain on his shoulders and became a reliable playoff option, but wasn’t reliable enough for Boone to summon him amid the Game 3 debacle in the ALDS against Cleveland. bottom. That’s fine, though, because Holmes helped beat the Guardians in Games 4 and 5 and didn’t give up his earned runs in his sixth inning of the postseason. That’s reason enough to believe he’s back all along, and is now the most valuable closer in town since Edwin Diaz went down that year.
As a compassionate fellow, Holmes felt the effects of the knee injury Diaz sustained at the World Baseball Classic celebration, calling it a “punch in the belly.” Unlike Diaz, Holmes failed to maintain his 2022 brilliance for the entire season. If the Yankees want to give themselves the best chance of finally defeating the Astros by securing a home-field advantage for the inevitable October clash, Holmes will be integral in that pursuit.
When asked if he would accept the idea that Holmes is one of the Yankees’ most important players and has championship potential, he dismissed the overall talent of the bullpen.
“It’s not too personal for me,” he said. “When the time comes, I will make sure I am ready to work. … Someone accepting a tremendous amount of responsibility, whether it is or not, is probably not the best way to look at it.
Indeed, there is enough pressure in New York to add an unnecessary add-on. , Jonathan Loisiga, Wandy Peralta, King, and many other relievers who can steal the ball in save situations. Rather than the traditional approach to the closer’s role, the Yankees will likely go by committee chaired by Holmes.
“We know Klay will get a lot of chances,” pitching coach Matt Blake said. [Loaisiga] Or King. … When you have a lineup with a lot of right-handed hitters in the 8th and left-handed hitters in the 9th, it doesn’t make much sense for Clay to go in the 9th. [George] springers [Bo] Bichette and [Vladimir] Guerreros the 8th.
That’s fine. However, it should be noted that during the seven championship seasons of the George Steinbrenner era, the Yankees had a singular power in the closer role: Sparky his Lyle was his 1977 si his Young Awarded. Goose Gossage led his AL saves in 1978 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. John Wetteland led the league in saves and was named World Series MVP in 1996. Mariano Rivera became a bullpen GOAT and was inducted into the Hall of Fame by first unanimous vote while clinching the 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009 titles for his team.
Can Holmes participate in the selection group?
“He can be a dominant relief pitcher,” Boone said before Holmes pitched a scoreless inning on nine pitches in Saturday’s 5–2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The Yankees should be able to capitalize on that advantage for six months of the season instead of three.