Yankees call up Jonathan Holder and option Stephen Tarpley to Triple-A


After spending close to a month in Triple-A Jonathan Holder is back in the Yankees bullpen. In order to make room on the roster, LHP Stephen Tarpley was sent back to Scranton.

It probably took a lot longer than he hoped for but Holder is finally getting another shot to prove to the Yankees that he belongs in the big leagues. The 26-year-old right-hander was demoted back in late June after posting an ERA of 6.81 in 31 games.

The 2018 season was a breakout campaign for Holder as he was one of the most consistent relievers in the Yankee bullpen. In 66 IP he had a 3.14 ERA with 60 K’s and an impressive 1.09 WHIP. This season Holder was expected to possibly take on a bigger role in the pen after the departure of David Robertson and even more so after fellow reliever, Chad Green was sent down in late April following his own early-season struggles.

However, as the first half of the season progressed things only got worse for Holder. He posted an ERA of 4.55 through the end of May but in June his ERA was 14.63 so the Yankees had no choice but to option him to the Railriders for the first time since April of 2018.

The Yanks gave Holder plenty of opportunities in June to work himself out of his funk by pitching him in low leverage situations when the team had a big lead. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out at all and it got to a point where he couldn’t get through an outing without having to be replaced by a new reliever.

Since his demotion Holder has pitched in seven games with Scranton posting an ERA of 3.48. Not great, but the Yankees must have seen enough from him to believe that he’ll come back better and stronger just as Green did when he returned to the team following a brief minor league in May.

The key for Holder is improving his control and getting ahead in counts because he doesn’t have the overpowering stuff to get away with mistakes when he has to throw strikes. He isn’t your typical reliever in today’s day and age because he features four different pitches to get hitters out. Last season he really mixed things up well and threw all of them with conviction and displayed great control.

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He still has the same repertoire, but he needs to control his fastball to all four quadrants and throw more first-pitch strikes. He doesn’t have the high 90s fastball to challenge hitters when he’s behind in the counts but when he’s throwing strikes he becomes a lot less predictable and he can expand the zone with his slider, curveball, and changeup.

It remains to be seen how long Holder will be with the big league club this time around because we all know how often the Yankees send relievers back and forth on the Scranton shuttle. Just ask Tarpley and Nestor Cortes Jr.

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Neither one of them deserved to be sent down based on their performance but because they each threw a lot of pitches this past week and have options remaining they were. There’s some pressure on Holder because he also has options remaining so if he wants to make this stay a long one he needs to have immediate results.