ST. LOUIS — The frustrating thing for the Yankees Friday night is that Clay Holmes started to look like himself again. The closer, who has been dominant in the first half of the season, has now allowed points to score in consecutive appearances and extend the lead in four of his last 10 appearances. On Friday night, however, he appeared to have regained command of his sinker, only to be burned by Paul DeJong’s double to rightfield.
“Yeah, I definitely felt a lot better there, but at the end of the day there were two points scored and that’s really all that matters,” said Holmes after the Yankees lost 4-3 to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. . “Nights like this are, I think, pretty tough. Especially if you’re feeling pretty good. You have to make the most of it, especially with the one point lead.”
This is the first struggle Holmes has had with the Yankees since they bought him on the trade TBEN in 2021. He worked his way into a closer role with his ridiculously good start to the season. In his first 38 appearances, Holmes had conceded two earned runs with six walks and 40 strikeouts. He has allowed nine earned runs and walked six in the last 7.1 innings over eight appearances.
The Yankee bulls, who were brilliant to start the season, have had some hits. Aroldis Chapman is having a hard time. Chad Green and Michael King, who had an All-Star-worthy first half, both lost the rest of the year to injuries.
Still, the Yankees bullpen has the second-lowest ERA (2.93) in the majors and batting average against (.208), both behind the Astros.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone was adamant that Holmes is absolutely capable of making it through this stretch, but the Yankees may need to give the big right-hander some breather. With 46 appearances this season, Holmes is in 10th place in the majors. The Yankees’ bullpen was built not to use Holmes strictly as a closer, but as they did in the eighth inning on Friday-evening against the heart of a lineup, especially against the righthanded batters.
So the Yankees may need to consider their game closing options.
Friday night, Boone said he would have trusted Chapman to handle the ninth inning – and the bottom of the Cardinals lineup – had Holmes made it through the eighth.
“Hopefully we’re all going to roll as we can,” Boone said of the bullpen. “Chappies have clearly built up momentum, hopefully we get [Jonathan Loaisiga] to go. Scotty [Effross] went in there and did a great job and we got Lou Trivino. [Albert] Abreu throws the ball very well. So we feel like we have a lot of options there.
“I’d like to get to that point where Clay is always that really tough right lane, whether it’s the eighth or the ninth, if we can get everyone rolling, we can get them in those best spots.”
If Boone Holmes wants to retire in the ninth inning, he has some options.
While he claimed to have faith in Chapman, who missed six weeks on the injured list as the Yankees also tried to correct his delivery, the inconsistencies were too many to imagine him closing big games. The 34-year-old has a career-high 4.81 ERA and has walked 17 in 24.1 innings pitched.
Trivino has 36 saves in his career with the A’s, including 22 last season and 10 this year. Trivino’s numbers scream “stay away” in high leverage spots, but they’re deceptive. Scouts who watched him this year said he was a victim of the A’s poor defense after he traded Matt Chapman and Matt Olson this spring. He’s looked good in his appearances with the Bombers so far.
Loaisiga, who came in this season as Chapman’s heir, has been hit or miss this season. The righthander has given up 17 earned runs and walked 11 in 24 innings pitched, but has looked slightly better since coming off the injured list after suffering from shoulder inflammation.
A less conventional, but more interesting option would be to use rookie right-hander Ron Marinaccio, who has not only allowed just one point in his last 18 appearances, but also showed the right mindset when he bounced right back after a rough outing against the Royals. .