Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining What They’re Getting in Colin Holderman

May 25, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Colin Holderman (35) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Colin Holderman (35) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired rookie reliever Colin Holderman in the trade that sent Daniel Vogelbach to the Mets. So what does the right-hander bring to the Bucs?

The Pittsburgh Pirates made their first notable trade as we approach the August 2nd trade deadline. They swung a one-for-one swap with the New York Mets, sending designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach to Queens in exchange for rookie reliever Colin Holderman. The right-handed reliever will slot directly into the Pirate bullpen, but what is he bringing to the table?

It’s been a long journey for Holderman as he was a ninth-round pick by the Mets back in 2016. Holderman slowly but steadily made his way up the minor leagues and made his Triple-A debut this year. He pitched 14.1 innings but only allowed just four earned runs, struck out 30.4% of batters faced, allowed three to reach via the free pass, and had a ground ball rate well above 60%, clocking in at 63.6%.

Since making his major league debut on May 15th, Holderman has 17.2 innings under his belt, where he has put up a strong 2.04 ERA, 2.26 FIP, and 1.02 WHIP. He hasn’t allowed a home run yet while putting up a solid 45.2% ground ball rate. He’s held opponents to an 87.6 MPH exit velo and 35.7% hard-hit rate, both of which are average to above average. This helps his healthy ground ball rate play up. He has walked 10.4% of batters faced but has also struck out over a quarter of them (26.9%).

Holderman is getting a ton of swings and misses. His whiff and chase rate are above average. When they are chasing out of the zone, they’re making nearly 10% less contact than average. He could see an uptick in strikeout rate if these rates continue or improve.

Holderman’s arsenal consists of three pitches. He uses a sinker, cutter, and slider, with his sinker being his most used offering. Holderman has seen a significant uptick in velo, going from the low-to-mid-90s to upper-90s. That’s probably the kind of velocity you’d expect from a guy with a 6’7”, 240-pound frame, though.

Right now, he averages out at 95.7 MPH but can hit upwards of 97-98 MPH. On average, his sinker has 20.2 inches of drop and 14.7 inches of vertical break. His cutter is his second most used offering, which sits in the mid-to-upper-80s. He throws this pitch with 6.6 inches of horizontal movement and 30.7 inches of drop. Finally, there’s his slider that comes in just a tick below his cutter in terms of velo. This pitch has 37.6 inches of drop and 9.2 inches of vertical break.

As of now, all of Holderman’s pitches have a negative run value, coming in with -1 for his sinker, -2 for his cutter, and -1 for his slider. This means that all of his pitches have produced above-average results. He isn’t pitching well over his head, either. Holderman has held opponents to a .228 wOBA while their expected wOBA comes in at .266. Meanwhile, his DRA is 9% better than the league average, though most pitchers pitch well above their DRA.

FanGraphs ranked the right-handed reliever as the Mets’ 10th best prospect. In their write-up about Holderman, they describe him as a “third banana in a contending team’s bullpen.” Although the Mets’ system isn’t elite, they still have a solid farm. Acquiring their 10th best prospect is a solid get for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Next. Minor League Roundup: Jack Suwinski Hits 2 HRs & More. dark

Colin Holderman is 26-years-old and projects to be a long-term asset to the bullpen. He’ll likely slot in as a set-up man for David Bednar, alongside other arms like Wil Crowe, Duane Underwood Jr., and Yerry De Los Santos.

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