After a miserable start, Jonathan Holder has resurged

A few weeks ago, Yankee fans were calling for his head. Yankees Twitter was ablaze with hot takes from armchair scouts giving their analysis of Jonathan Holder, and the consensus was bleak: “Get rid of this bum!” Luckily for both Holder and the Yankees, the fans don’t make the personnel decisions. Aaron Boone continued to pitch Holder in the later innings, and the young right-hander has proven the team’s patience was worth it. With injuries to Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren, Holder’s recent success has transformed him into one of the most important arms at Boone’s disposal.
Photo Credit: Newsday

Drafted by New York in the sixth round of the 2014 Amateur Draft out of Mississippi State, Holder made a quick assent to the Majors. He made his big league debut for the Yankees in 2016 and, at just 24-years old, he is still the youngest member of New York’s bullpen. While Holder’s debut season left a bit to be desired (he allowed eight earned runs in just 8.1 IP), he earned enough trust from the organization to make 37 appearances for a Yankee team that took the Astros to Game Seven of the ALCS in 2017. Despite some ups-and-downs, Holder ended up with respectable numbers in his rookie campaign, posting a solid 3.89 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 39.1 IP.

But as is often the case with the Yankee fan base, it’s all about what you’ve done for me lately. With an incredibly slow start to his 2018 campaign, Holder quickly fell out of favor with the fans. In his first three appearances this season, Holder allowed six earned runs in just 2.2 IP, accounting for an almost impressively bloated 20.25 ERA. Certainly numbers like that deserve some blowback from the Bronx faithful, but Holder has since done more than enough to gain the admiration of the fans and the trust of the coaching staff. While Holder is still sporting a somewhat inflated 4.38 ERA, he has not allowed an earned run since his appearance against Baltimore on April 6th.

That’s right, while it may be hard to believe, Holder has actually been the Yankees best reliever statistically since early-April, and it has not been solely because of his ability to keep the other team off of the scoreboard. Since allowing three earned runs in two innings against the Orioles on April 6th, Holder has pitched 9.2 innings and allowed just two hits and one walk, good for an immaculate WHIP of just 0.326 in that span. While a horrid start might skew Holder’s numbers, the righty has been nearly perfect over the last month.

This recent success, along with the injuries to Kahnle and Warren, has forced Aaron Boone to steadily increase Holder’s workload, putting him in more high-pressure spots in tight ballgames. While veterans like David Robertson and Dellin Betances are still given deference to bridge the gap to Aroldis Chapman, Boone has shown that he is not afraid to use Holder in crucial spots with the game on the line. Holder has pitched the eighth inning in tight ballgames against top tier teams like Cleveland and Boston. Boone handed Holder the ball to hold onto a tie in the sixth inning against Oakland last Saturday. Though he was originally slated for a mop-up role, circumstance has forced Holder into big situations, and he is thriving under the pressure.

With a short bullpen, fans can probably expect to continue seeing Holder in big spots in the near future. It is less certain, however, how Boone will use Holder once Kahnle and Warren are back off of the disabled list. While Kahnle and Warren have more service time under their belts, and they have both put together respectable Major League careers, Holder has pitched Boone into a quandary with his recent dominance. Does Boone relegate Holder to a mop-up role once more, or has the young arm done enough to earn the big spots, even if the bullpen is at full-strength? Either way Boone decides to play it, Holder has pitched well enough to ensure that this problem is a good one for the Yankees to have.

Article by: Jonathan Kohut


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