Why exactly is Clay Holmes starting vs. Giants?

Why exactly is Clay Holmes starting vs. Giants?


Why exactly is Clay Holmes starting vs. Giants?


On today’s episode of Why is this guy in the Pittsburgh Pirates starting lineup we have right handed rookie pitcher, Clay Holmes.

After a traumatic three game series in Colorado where his pitching staff allowed five earned runs in 21 innings of work, manager Clint Hurdle decided that once again, his red hot players needed rest rather than more reps, calling up Holmes to give the trio of Joe Musgrove, Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer an extra day off.

Originally, the pitcher who was in line to start this evening was Trevor Williams.

In his last four starts, Williams has allowed just two earned runs in 22 innings. He also outpitched reigning AL Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber and this year’s National League Cy Young favorite, Jacob deGrom during that span.

To say Trevor enjoys pitching in big games would be an understatement. Yet, rather than having him, along with Musgrove and Taillon on the hill to finish off an important four-game series against the Giants, the Bucs will instead put their faith in someone who has pitched just four times in the major leagues.

Listen, I get the importance of resting players and I understand that the MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint. However, at what point does Hurdle throw all of his chips on the table and put out the best possible lineup for his team to win on a day to day basis?

We are not in May anymore and unless if my eyes deceive me, the Pirates are within spitting distance of the playoff picture.

With that being said, I will again ask, why on earth is Clay Holmes pitching against the Giants tonight?

If Hurdle’s ongoing desire to rest his players had shown any signs of being effective I wouldn’t be writing this story. The only problem is, these “rest days” seem to be more hurtful than they are helpful.

My first example of this would be the four man outfield rotation.

After Starling Marte was reactivated of the disabled list on May 26, Hurdle elected to use a four man outfield platoon in hopes of getting Gregory Polanco out of his mid-season slump.

While, the four man rotation certainly allowed Polanco to get back on track, the extra rest stalled the progress of both Corey Dickerson and Marte, who had OPS’ of .699 and .698 during the time frame. Sure enough, when Hurdle started batting Dickerson first and playing he, Marte and Polanco on an everyday basis, not only did the outfield’s offensive production improve, the team turned their entire season around.

The Pirates seemingly could not lose until once again, Hurdle once again started messing with the every day lineup.

Just in the past week we have seen him pitch Alex McRae in the fifth inning of a tied game against the St. Louis Cardinals to give rest to a bullpen that had two days off earlier in the week.

The next day he refused to pinch hit David Freese in the late innings of a close game and instead looked toward Jordan Luplow to come up big in a key situation.

Last but not least, he decided to leave a smoldering Adam Frazier out of the starting lineup against the Rockies on Monday.

Sure enough, all three decisions backfired. McRae got rocked all the way back to Indianapolis, Luplow hit into an inning ending double play with the tying run on third on and the Bucs got shut out in Colorado on Monday with their hottest hitter watching from the dugout.

All three losses that could have potentially been avoided had the manager been less cautious.

Now, after winning three straight and with the starting rotation clicking better than ever, Hurdle has once again elected to play it safe, pitching Holmes rather than the guys who helped his team get back into the playoff discussion.

Hurdle often uses the phrase “we don’t want to over cook it”, when he refers to a situation where his staff decides not to over think something.

However, when it comes to giving his players rest versus playing them on the day of an important game, Hurdle might need to check the oven, because something might be burning.

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