Their bullpen taxed in recent days, the Pirates added a stretched-out option Sunday when they recalled right-hander Clay Holmes from Triple-A.
Holmes was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday for Indianapolis, arrived in Pittsburgh less than three hours before game time and entered the game at PNC Park in the seventh inning.
He walked the first batter he faced but retired the next five.
“Made some good pitches,” Holmes said. “Felt pretty good and confident.”
The 6-foot-5 Holmes previously spent some time on the MLB roster in April, appearing in one game and pitching two innings . Over his past four starts for Indianapolis, Holmes allowed just two earned runs and had a 28 to 4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 251⁄3 innings.
“It’s attacking the zone with all three pitches,” general manager Neal Huntington said to explain Holmes’ success. “It’s the fastball, the cutter/slider, and the curveball. He’s just absolutely dominated the strike zone with it and forced weak contact, and he has three major-league-caliber pitches and he might finally be figuring that out.”
“We see Clayton as a guy very capable of being a power-sinker, major-league starting pitcher, and sometimes those guys end up being power-sinker, major-league relievers.”
— Scott (@bonnett_scott) April 7, 2018
The 25-year-old has been ranked among the organization’s top 25 prospects by either MLB.com or Baseball America in four of the past six seasons, albeit never higher than 10th.
Holmes had Tommy John surgery in 2014 but worked his way back up the organizational ladder. He has a 3.57 ERA over 109 minor league games (all but three of them starts) and is 6-3 with a 3.39 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 661⁄3 Triple-A innings this season.
“My best pitches were feeding off each other, getting me ahead in counts with all the pitches, staying with my strengths and staying with myself,” Holmes said of his recent success. “The execution been there and the results too.”
To make room for Holmes, the Pirates placed reliever Michael Feliz on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Acquired from Houston as part of the offseason Gerrit Cole trade, Feliz began the season as the seventh-inning set-up man and even spent time in the eighth-inning role. But he’s struggled over the past month: 9.95 ERA, 1.97 WHIP and four home runs allowed over 122⁄3 innings in 11 outings since May 23.
“Michael said he just (had) a little bit of tightness, a little bit of inflammation in his shoulder, so (it’s) an opportunity to knock that inflammation out of there and give him a little bit of a breather and also gets Clay on the club,” Huntington said.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.