The competition for innings was fierce in the New York Yankees’ bullpen in recent years. Jonathan Holder might find more opportunity with the Chicago Cubs, who have signed the Mississippi State product as a free agent. The deal is for one year and $750,000, according to the Chicago Tribune, if Holder makes the roster in spring training. Holder was non-tendered by the Yankees after posting a 4.98 ERA in 18 games during a rollercoaster 2020 season. The Gulfport native, 27, has a 4.38 career ERA in 157 big league appearances, all with New York, since 2016. A standout closer at State, Holder has no career MLB save chances. Holder’s competition in Chicago could include former George County High star Justin Steele, who has been in the Cubs’ system since 2014 but has yet to make his big league debut. Left-hander Steele was actually drafted a round ahead (the fifth) of Holder in ’14.
The competition is stiff for jobs in the New York Yankees’ bullpen, but Jonathan Holder is holding his own. Former Mississippi State and Gulfport High star Holder worked a clean inning against the Mets on Sunday night, his fifth scoreless appearance in exhibition play dating back to spring training. The 27-year-old right-hander has allowed two hits and no walks with six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. This could be a pivotal year for Holder, now in his seventh pro season. After contributing solid stuff in the Bronx in 2017 and ’18, he took some lumps last year and wound up being shipped out to the minors in mid-summer. He returned and ultimately finished with a 6.31 ERA, roughly double his number from 2018. Holder would seem to be a safe bet to make the Yankees’ 30-man opening roster, filling a middle relief role. But jobs will be hard to keep when that roster gets trimmed, first to 28, then 26. P.S. Ex-Petal High standout Demarcus Evans was sent to Texas’ alternate training site on Sunday, meaning he won’t make the roster for the Rangers’ opener. Evans, 23, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound right-hander, pitched in high-A and Double-A ball in 2019, putting up a 0.90 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 60 innings. His big league debut can’t be far off. … Also, Ole Miss product Henri Lartigue, a catcher, was removed from Philadelphia’s 60-man list of eligible players and is no longer in camp.
Yankee Stadium must be an awesome place to call home when you’re winning. On the other hand, when things aren’t going well … . The boo birds were out in force in the sixth inning on Tuesday night. The central object of their derision was Jonathan Holder, the ex-Mississippi State standout who has pitched exceedingly well of late. He hadn’t allowed a run in eight straight appearances when he replaced Lance Lynn, the former Ole Miss star, in the sixth inning with two outs, two runners on and New York down 1-0 to the awful Chicago White Sox. Holder promptly gave up two hits. Three runs scored. Yankees fans were not happy. To his credit, Holder endured. He got out of the sixth and followed with two scoreless frames. And, yes, mystique and aura showed up and the Yankees came back. Two in the sixth, two in the eighth, a walk-off homer by Neil Walker in the ninth. Yankees fans were happy. The stadium rocked. And, hey, it’s only going to get crazier from here. … Lynn, coming off two rocky starts, is 1-1 with a 3.98 ERA in his six games with the Yankees. Holder now has a 3.05 ERA in 49 appearances. P.S. Southern Miss product Brian Dozier hit his 20th homer of the year, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers, also in a fevered playoff race, beat Texas. Dozier has reached the 20-homer level in each of his last five big league seasons. He hit a grand total of 16 homers in four minor league seasons.
In the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees clash slated for the next three days at Yankee Stadium, we might be lucky enough to see a matchup of Mississippians in a crucial spot: Amory native Mitch Moreland of the BoSox vs. Gulfport’s Jonathan Holder of the Yanks. Moreland, having a strong year (.290, 11 homers, 40 RBIs), typically hits in the middle of Boston’s order. (A left-handed hitter, he isn’t in the starting lineup tonight against lefty CC Sabathia.) Holder, having a breakout season (1.78 ERA in 26 games), has been getting more calls in key late-inning situations for New York. Moreland is 0-for-1 this year and 0-for-2 career against fellow Mississippi State product Holder, a right-hander. Boston hitters are 0-for-8 against Holder in 2018 and were 1-for-15 against him last year. Moreland is 4-for-14 vs. the Yanks in 2018, with a homer, against Masahiro Tanaka, currently out with an injury. He was 10-for-50 last year, with homers against Tanaka and Sonny Gray, Saturday’s scheduled starter. The Red Sox currently lead the Yankees by a game in the American League East. P.S. Former Ole Miss star Lance Lynn, currently pitching on a one-year deal with Minnesota, is considered an attractive trade piece, and one of the teams mentioned by mlb.com as a good fit is – drumroll – the Yankees. After a sluggish start in 2018, Lynn, a veteran who eats innings, is 4-2, 2.40 over his last seven starts.
Jonathan Holder made the New York Yankees’ staff out of spring training but didn’t figure to hold a prominent role in a deep and talented bullpen. That has changed. The Mississippi State alum from Gulfport is pitching in high-leverage situations now. Case in point: Monday’s second game against Washington. Holder came on in the sixth inning with runners at first and third, no outs and the Yankees gripping a one-run lead. The right-hander got two strikeouts and a pop up to escape the jam, and New York went on to win 4-2. “After he did that you could feel a jolt across the bench,” Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray told mlb.com. Holder has gone 22 innings without allowing an earned run. In 23 appearances, he has a 2.19 ERA. Holder, who debuted in the majors in 2016, actually started slowly this season and was sent back to Triple-A. His response? “Go down and work on stuff,” he told nj.com. He reportedly refined his slider a bit and regained some velocity on his fastball. Since his recall on April 21, he has been lights out. For State fans, whose focus has been elsewhere (Tallahassee, Nashville, Omaha) in recent weeks, Holder’s performance should ring familiar. He was the closer on the 2013 Bulldogs team that made it all the way to the College World Series finals. That squad included six players who already have played in the majors and a couple more who might yet get there. Holder, a sophomore in 2013, went 2-0 with 21 saves and a 1.65 ERA for a 51-20 team. The Yankees drafted him in the sixth round in 2014, and he moved swiftly through their system.
Jonathan Holder’s task entering spring training with the New York Yankees will be challenging, to say the least. Mississippi State product Holder will be trying to nail down a job in what mlb.com speculates might be the best bullpen of all-time. Holder, 24, has pitched well in his 45 MLB appearances to date – 4.15 ERA, 45 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings – but he would appear to be far down in the Yankees’ pecking order. Aroldis Chapman, the fearsome left-hander, is the closer. The crew of middle relievers and set-up men includes Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Adam Warren, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green and Chasen Shreve, the former Mississippi Braves lefty. Holder, a sixth-round pick by New York in 2014, established himself as a prospect in 2016, when he struck out 101 batters and walked just seven in 65 1/3 innings in the minors. The Gulfport native made his big league debut that season and made the opening day roster last year, though he spent most of 2017 in the minors. And the competition for bullpen jobs has only grown more fierce in the Bronx.
The shadows cast in the New York Yankees’ bullpen are considerable. There’s Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren — they get most of the high-leverage work. But Jonathan Holder, the Mississippi State product from Gulfport, has earned his seat in that bullpen. And he figures to get more pressurized opportunities as the season progresses for a team that looks like a playoff contender. Scouting reports rave about Holder’s swing-and-miss stuff. In his second big league tour, he has posted a 3.00 ERA in 11 appearances, including a scoreless ninth inning in Tuesday’s 11-5 win over Toronto. He has fanned 10 and walked one in nine innings, yielded no homers and been credited with two holds. He didn’t get a hold on April 28, when he did some of his most impressive work. When Holder came on in the seventh, the Yankees trailed Baltimore 11-4. Holder shut the O’s water off, retiring all five batters he faced. The Yankees rallied for a stunning 14-11 win in 10, with Clippard and Chapman also hanging up scoreless frames. Holder was a record-setting closer at State and was drafted in the sixth round in 2014 by New York, which converted him to starter in the minors for two years. He went back to the pen in 2016 and sailed through three levels – with a 1.65 ERA — to arrive with the Bronx Bombers on Sept. 2. He had mixed results (5.40 ERA) then, but he made the big club out of spring training and has continued to impress. P.S. Former Petal High star Anthony Alford made Baseball America’s All-Prospect team for April. The highly regarded Blue Jays farmhand, now playing in Double-A, hit .356 with two homers, eight RBIs, 12 runs and seven steals.
Jonathan Holder was almost perfect on Sunday. The right-hander out of Mississippi State, pitching for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, faced 13 batters and struck out 12 of them. He registered the save in a 3-1 win that clinched an International League playoff berth for SWB, a New York Yankees affiliate. Gulfport native Holder, a sixth-round pick by the Yankees in 2014, put up a 2.20 ERA at Double-A Trenton with 10 saves in 11 chances. He has been even better for SWB, going 6-for-6 in save opps with an 0.89 ERA, 35 strikeouts and no walks in 20 1/3 innings. Punchouts are not Holder’s forte, or so he says. “Getting swings and misses is a plus, but letting hitters get themselves out is my game plan,” he told milb.com. For the record, he has 225 K’s in 219 2/3 career innings. Holder is not on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, but he has positioned himself for a possible September call-up. P.S. Pittsburgh sent former State star Adam Frazier down to rookie-level Bristol on Sunday. Why Bristol? Because, according to mlb.com, Frazier can be recalled as soon as Bristol’s season ends, which is Thursday. The versatile Frazier is hitting .321 with a home run and seven RBIs in 39 games with Pittsburgh, which is still chasing a wild card in the National League.