Pittsburgh Pirates: Two Young Bullpen Arms Who Could Have Big Roles

Pittsburgh Pirates v San Francisco Giants
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Colin Holderman

Similarly to Hernandez, Colin Holderman has looked great this spring, but more importantly, he’s shown the kind of talent you love to see. He’s topping out in the triple-digits with his four-seamer while consistently sitting 97-99 MPH with his sinker. Holderman’s average sinker velocity in 2022 was 96 MPH, which was in the 75th percentile of velocity. So far, his slowest sinker has registered at 96.8 MPH.

In the few innings Holderman did throw last year, the right-handed reliever worked to a 3.81 ERA, 3.32 FIP, and 1.20 WHIP in 28.1 frames. He had just a 22.4% strikeout rate but a superb 8.2% walk rate and didn’t allow a single home run. Despite his plus velocity in 2022, he struggled to get swings and misses. His whiff rate was just 22.5%, compared to the league average rate of 24.7%. But he did at least have an above average exit velocity (86.6 MPH) and hard hit rate (43

Those numbers are a tad inflated, as he surrendered five earned runs on one walk and three hits in his final game of the year before he was out indefinitely on the IL. Aside from his promising sinkerball, he also throws a slider that had a 41% whiff rate, .114 AVG/SLG%, and .160 wOBA against it.

If you followed Holderman in the offseason, you’d know that his velocity gains came from working out at Driveline, one of if not the most advanced baseball facility in the world. Holderman is throwing harder than ever, a highly promising development for him in Spring Training, and it could lead to a greater role down the stretch.

Holderman should open the year as a set-up option to help bridge the gap between the middle relievers and the high-leverage arms. If the improvements are real, Holderman could be a dominant force in the back-end of the bullpen. He definitely could find himself as the 8th inning man to David Bednar.

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