Pittsburgh Pirates: Non-Roster Invitees Who Could Make Opening Day Roster
By Marty Leap
Right-handed reliever Clay Holmes
The final player of this trio is a familiar face for Pirates fans – right-handed reliever Clay Holmes.
During the 2020 season Holmes looked primed for a breakout season. All signs pointed toward manager Derek Shelton giving Holmes an opportunity to pitch in high leverage situations and new pitching coach Oscar Marin was going to let Holmes pitch to his strengths. Well, after just one outing he was shutdown due to a forearm issue.
This injury contributed to the Pittsburgh Pirates non-tendering Holmes earlier in the offseason. However, he would re-sign with the Bucs on a minor league contract. Part of this minor league contract was an invite to MLB camp.
Holmes has logged 77.2 in 47 games with the Pirates, four of which were starts. In those 77.2 innings he owns a 5.91 ERA and a 5.06 FIP. He’s walked 15.7% of batters faced, struck out 20.8% and allowed home runs at just a 0.81 HR/9 rate.
These results do not tell the whole story for Holmes, though. Holmes has the nasty stuff needed to be a shutdown MLB reliever. During the 2019 season his fastball velocity ranked in the 72nd percentile of baseball, his curveball spin rate was in the 76th percentile and in hte 64th percentile in whiff rate. In his career opposing batters have a barrel rate of just 4.9% off of Holmes, which is nearly two full percentage points better than the league average.
If Holmes can pitching effectively and prove he is healthy, he will have an excellent shot at being part of the Opening Day bullpen. Hopefully for Clay’s sake, this will prove to be the case for the talented righty.