Yankees' Clay Holmes choice got even weirder vs Orioles and fans roasted them for it

Why do they do what they do?
Apr 14, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Clay Holmes (35) throws the ball during
Apr 14, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Clay Holmes (35) throws the ball during / Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

When the Yankees subbed out Clay Holmes for also-ran Michael Tonkin in the 10th inning of their series opener with the Brewers, clinging to a one-run lead, it felt ominous. Somehow, when they captured the final two games of the series and scored 15 runs twice, the decision retroactively felt even worse?

Holmes rarely, if ever, throws two innings. Ditto for every Yankees closer since Mariano Rivera. Still, despite the team's attempt at a holistic view, if it ever seemed worth it, the 10th inning in Milwaukee after a dominant, 10-pitch ninth felt like a solid chance to take. Unfortunately, the team felt differently, pinning the loss on Tonkin's arm while Holmes rested for the remainder of the series.

It seemed as if the team's stalwart closer would end up with three days off, based on the way the Yankees' series opener in Baltimore was unfolding. Aaron Boone, in a confounding manner, had other plans.

Clarke Schmidt dealt after a leadoff Gunnar Henderson homer, but the Yankees once again went dormant on offense/with runners in scoring position and entered the bottom of the eighth down a run. One of the team's more middling middle relief options, Caleb Ferguson, entered to keep the game tight, but placed two runners on for Anthony Santander with two outs. That led to ... Holmes entering mid-inning? Did he need the work?!

Yankees' usage patterns for Clay Holmes defy logic vs Orioles

If the Yankees had taken a lead in the top of the ninth, would Holmes have returned for split-inning duty? Or would they have nodded to Tonkin after eight pitches from their All-Star closer?

Across-the-board odd. Aaron Boone is right. Holmes has been a bit overused so far, but such is life when you're the only dominant force in a bullpen full of pitch-to-contact guys. With Ian Hamilton "generally sore" and Jonathan Loaisiga/Tommy Kahnle/Scott Effross far sorer, they're running out of printable late-inning arms, and have been forced to turn to Holmes more often than they'd like. He's typically delivered.

You want to stay away from him for two innings on Friday because you want to play for the future? Fine. There were still better, safer options than Tonkin available, but fine. You want to turn to him midway through a frame on Monday, in the type of desperate move that evoked playoff baseball? Where was that desperation on Friday?

Predictably, Holmes did his job, inducing a ground ball to Anthony Volpe to escape the inning.

Predictably, he was let down by outside forces; Volpe botched it, a run scored, and Boone's creativity was for naught. See you on Thursday at the earliest, Clay.