After downright dominating the minors, New York Yankees’ rookie Jonathan Holder could have a serious impact on this year’s playoff race.
After starting his 2016 campaign with High-A Tampa, he climbed two levels in just 30 appearances (22 starts) and made his way to Trenton and then finished his minor league season at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Overall, he went 5-1 and pitched the tune of a 1.65 ERA across 65.1 innings pitched featuring a 0.89 ERA in 12 outings at the highest level. Additionally, he struck out 101 batters compared to just seven walks to help him earn a 13.9 K/9 ratio on the year.
Those numbers are unheard of in any level of the sport but wait, it gets better.
In what would be his final appearance in the minors this season, Holder struck out 12 of the 13 batters he faced – including 11 straight – in four scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Again, unheard of.
“It was special,” Holder told the NY Post on the dominant performance in Triple-A. “I’ll remember it for a while. It was one of those days when everything was just working my way. It gives me a little confidence coming in. I feel ready.”
With that, the Yankees decided to bring him up to the big league roster when the rosters expanded to 40 men. Now, usually teams would bring up relievers to protect them from the Rule-5 Draft but Holder was an exception.
He is only in his third season in the organization, therefore, the decision to promote the 23-year old to the Bronx was a message that they believe he can boost their hunt for a playoff spot.
In the sixth inning of Friday night’s 8-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, New York got a huge preview of what’s to come after Holder struck out Adam Jones for his first major league out before throwing up a perfect frame in his debut.
While he has started in a lot of games, Holder, and his dynamic three pitch mix, are projected to be used at the end of games as he has experience being a closer (16 saves) and after that performance in which he lit up the Electric City, there is no denying the impact he could have.
For the record, there’s no way Holder will come out of the gate and make everyone forget about “No-Runs DMC” and just how dominant they were but for him to provide a spark from the seventh or eighth inning for a team just 3.5 games out of the postseason is not far-fetched.
Back to what matters, though.
The rebuild process in the Bronx has been underway for over a month now and Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, and Aaron Judge are becoming household names who are being played with the expectation of locking down a starting job in 2017.
Holder could very well be the next kid that earned a call-up who could make an instantaneous impression en route to earning a roster spot for next season.
After all, isn’t the future the focus at this point? The best part of Holder is: he can give us a promising future while earning invaluable experience in a playoff hunt.
Christian Kouroupakis covers the New York Yankees for ESNY. Interact with him and view his daily work by “liking” his facebook page and follow him on Twitter. All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Don’t hesitate to shoot him an email with any questions, criticisms, or concerns.