ST. LOUIS — It happened again.
Clay Holmes blew his second straight game as the Yankees fell to the Cardinals, 4-3, at Busch Stadium on Friday night.
The Yankees gave Holmes a one-run lead to protect in the eighth inning, and Holmes — not long off his first All-Star selection — gave it away.
With one out, Nolan Arenado tapped one to third base too weakly for Josh Donaldson, playing back, to make a play. Then with two outs, Holmes walked Tyler O’Neill in a full count despite getting ahead, 1-2.
On the next pitch, Holmes left a 96-mph fastball over the plate to Paul DeJong, who doubled into the right-field corner to score both runners.
The Yankees couldn’t recover. For Holmes, it was his second consecutive meltdown. On Sunday, the tall righty gave up three earned runs while blowing a save to the Royals at Yankee Stadium.
Holmes had a 0.46 ERA over his first 38 appearances this year. Since then, Holmes has given up nine earned runs in 7 1/3 innings (11.05 ERA).
Should the Yankees worry? What should manager Aaron Boone do with his closer spot? Here are three options:
Stick with Clay Holmes: This is the most likely option. It’s also the correct option. Yes, Holmes has had a rough time lately. But, also yes, Holmes still has the single best pitch in the Yankees’ bullpen, and that’s his sinker, which … hasn’t been good enough lately. But who would you trust more in the moment? Actually, a case could be made for rookie Ron Marinaccio, who has given up just a run in his last 18 appearances. But his walks (4.2 BB/9) are a bit high. Either way, Holmes — despite his struggles — often seems a pitch away from getting himself out of trouble. It’s not time to hit the panic button yet, though concerns over Holmes workload (45 appearances) are warranted. He made 69 appearances in total last season, but Holmes has found himself in more high-stress innings in 2022 than he has at any other point in his professional career. Each time Holmes takes the ball, he’s facing the heart of the opposition’s order, and that has to be taxing.
Move to Lou Trivino? He’s got the experience. Trivino saved 22 games last year and then 10 this season with Oakland. In two Yankees appearances this season, he hasn’t given up an earned run. While Trivino gave up a ton of hits with the A’s this season (12.9 H/9), that was at least in part due to Oakland trading Gold Glove contending corner infielders Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. The Yankees’ infield defense is much better than the A’s and could hold up behind Trivino.
Closer by committee: The least likely option. Yes, Boone said he would likely have gone to Aroldis Chapman for the save if Holmes had gotten through the eighth inning with the lead in tact on Friday night. But no matter how badly teams want to mix and match relievers throughout games, ask any one of them, and they will tell you it helps them immensely to know when they’ll be pitching. Scott Effross has looked good since coming over from Chicago. Jonathan Loaisiga is still finding his way. Chapman shouldn’t be considered back inside the circle of trust yet. Marinaccio could get chances here and there but he’s a rookie and shouldn’t get that weight dropped on him. Wandy Peralta, for how good he’s been at times this season, doesn’t blow anyone away with his stuff.
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Brendan Kuty may be reached at [email protected].