“I’m pretty excited the way it’s going,’ Holder said on his season so far. “I’ve been a part of some good teams so I’m excited to keep it going.”
He began the year striking out seven batters in four shutout innings in high-A Tampa before earning a quick promotion up to Double. In Trenton this season Holder threw 41 innings and struck out 59 batters, and had a WHIP of 0.83.
That sample size was good enough for the Yankee organization to call up Holder to Triple-A. Three call-ups in one season could be too much to handle for some guys, but not Holder.
“I just come to work every day and try to get better,” Holder said. “Whatever happens is out of my control, I just try to do what I can for the team.”
Holder has made quiet the impression with the Railriders too. In 13.1 innings he has an ERA of 1.35 and a WHIP of 0.38 which is the type of number people laugh at because it’s so good. He has made it look easy but he has noticed a difference in competition.
“The guys up here are much more mature,” Holder said about the competitiveness in Triple-A. “Their at-bats are a lot more difficult cause their taking better quality pitches and their really looking for the pitches they want to hit.”
The right-hander out of Mississippi State has had a number of dominate performances at the Triple-A level but perhaps his best performance came on July, 23 when Holder came into the game up with the Railriders up one and the bases loaded with no one out. Holder struck out the first batter and then struck out former big leaguer Hank Conger, but it wasn’t just an ordinary strikeout; he threw a cutter inside to Conger that only made him swing and miss but in the process fell down and landed on top of home plate. Holder would retire the next four batters and record the save.
“It says a lot about his makeup,” manager Al Pedrique said postgame about Holder’s performance. “He came in he didn’t show any signs we was nervous… he has good movement on his fastballs, threw some good breaking balls. The cutter he threw to the nine hitter (Conger) that struck him out it was outstanding. That’s what I love to see, give guys the opportunity to pitch against adversity and make it through the situations.”
Pitching Coach Tommy Phelps was the pitching coach last year for the Tampa Yankees where Holder threw 103.1 innings as a starter.
“He was a kid who threw four pitches for strikes and he knew how to pitch,” Phelps said. “Great makeup, great competitor and he can repeat his delivery and make pitches.”
Last year as a starter Holder had good numbers too in class-A, posting a 2.44 ERA and his WHIP was 1.08. But for Holder, converting back to the bullpen, his mindset coming into the season didn’t change all that much.
“It changes a little bit,” Holder said about his mindset from changing starter to reliever. “As a starter you want to get guys out early in the counts and as a reliever you’re going in different situations trying to get guys out different ways, so having done it in college helped me transition a little bit.”
In college at Mississippi State Holder set the single season record for saves with 21.
“He’s been really good,” Phelps said on the transition from starter to reveler for Holder. “His fastball has gotten harder, his stuff has gotten crisper. It’s been a nice transition and he’s done a nice job. He’s put his name out there and he’s gotten some attention so if he keeps doing what he’s doing he such be able to help us here.”
Holder has a deep arsenal of great pitches, especially for a late-inning reliever, but one of his favorite putout pitches is a fastball/cutter inside on lefties.
“He does fastballs to both sides of the plate and he has that good cutter,” Phelps said. “The ability he has to control his pitches and throw any pitch in any count in any situation he throws it where he wants it, when you’re able to do that you’re gonna have a lot of success.”