By Jason Shetler
On the same day that Clay Holmes was optioned to AAA Indianapolis, Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said after Thursday’s game that the hard-throwing righty will be used as a multiple-inning relief arm.
Holmes had pitched primarily as a starter the past two seasons with Indianapolis, posting a 3.38 ERA, along with a 3.51 FIP and a groundball rate of 61% in a total of 47 games.
On April 6th of last year, Holmes made his debut for the Pirates. His first taste of big league action in 2018 was a real struggle for him, as he posted a 6.84 ERA and a very high 2.01 WHIP in 11 games, four of which were starts.
Holmes does possess outstanding stuff, such as an upper-90’s four-seamer, a power sinker, a cutter and curveball. The command of those pitches while with the Pirates however left a lot to be desired, and he’ll need to throw more consistent strikes, if he wants to be a mainstay at the Major League level. Holmes made some starts during Spring Training, so he’s certainly stretched out enough to handle multiple innings in the Indianapolis bullpen. The decision to make Holmes a reliever is likely done to give him a definitive role once he returns to Pittsburgh.