In a move that appeared long overdue, the Yankees optioned struggling reliever Jonathan Holder to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday night. The team hopes the right-hander can get back on track after a short run with the RailRiders.
Holder’s shellacking at the hands of the Blue Jays yesterday prompted the demotion. He entered the game in the eighth inning, as the Yankees sported an eight-run lead. This low-leverage situation made for the perfect time to see if Holder could get things ironed out. Instead, he surrendered five runs on two homers, one being a grand slam.
The entire 2019 season has been a nightmare for the 26-year-old. He has appeared in 31 games, pitching to a 6.81 ERA with a 4.95 FIP. He’s striking out more batters than ever (10.09 K/9), but he sports a poor walk rate (2.78 BB/9) and an astronomical home-run rate (2.02 HR/). Among relievers with a minimum of 30 innings pitched this season, Holder ranks second worst in ERA, sixth worst in HR/9, and 15th worst in FIP. It’s kind of impressive that the Yankees hand’t optioned him already.
Drafted in the sixth round back in 2014, Holder quickly climbed through the Yankees’ system. He earned a cup of coffee in 2016, but made a name for himself last season. He had a stretch of about two months where he pitched into a high-leverage role. It’s easy to forget that from May through July of 2018 he owned a 1.00 ERA with a 2.38 FIP. Overall, though, his body of work has left something to be desired. His career numbers stand at a 4.34 ERA (3.75 FIP) across 149.1 innings pitched.
The Yankees have a prodigious talent for churning out relievers, so replacing Holder shouldn’t be difficult. They also have demonstrated the ability to fix them, too. Hopefully Holder heads to Scranton and comes back as a key contributor, like Tommy Kahnle and Chad Green before him.