Pirates right-hander Clay Holmes is set to begin the season on the injured list after suffering a fracture in his right foot on Saturday. The reliever was struck by a line drive in yesterday’s game, and manager Derek Shelton told The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel (Twitter link) and other reporters that Holmes will be in a walking boot for the next four to six weeks. Considering the rehab time and how long it could take Holmes to ramp up after missing so much of Spring Training, it doesn’t seem likely that Holmes will suit up for the Pirates’ big league squad until mid-April at the earliest.
Over 50 innings out of Pittsburgh’s bullpen last season, Holmes posted a 5.58 ERA, 10.1 K/9, 60.3 % grounder rate, and 6.5 BB/9. Control has been Holmes’ biggest issue both in his brief Major League career (59 walks over his 76 1/3 frames with the Pirates) and even in the minors, as he posted pretty average walk rates at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels. On the plus side, Holmes misses a good number of bats and does an outstanding job at keeping the ball on the ground, with over a 60% grounder rate throughout his minor league career. 2019 was his first full season as a relief pitcher, so there could still be some untapped upside as Holmes completely adjusts to his new role.
Holmes was one of several arms competing for a job in Pittsburgh’s 2020 bullpen, and faced a bit more pressure considering he is out of minor league options. Going on the IL won’t impact his roster status, and it could even provide a clearer route to regaining a bullpen spot — if another reliever is struggling around the time Holmes is set to return, the Pirates will have a fairly easy decision.