The Cubs are adding to the bullpen, bringing in veteran Jonathan Holder.
The Chicago Cubs finally made a move with the signing of former New York Yankees pitcher Jonathan Holder. It was made official by the team Thursday morning, a one-year, $750,000 deal. Holder, 27, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Yankees out of Mississippi State University in 2014. He was once one of the team’s top prospects back in 2015-2017.
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Holder has shown flashes of promise, but overall inconsistency in his 157 games as an MLB player. The right-handed 6’2″, 232-pound reliever sports a career 4.38 ERA with a 3.85 FIP, 1.3 WHIP, 8.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Last season he posted a 4.98 ERA and 1.7 WHIP in 18 appearances. He threw one scoreless inning in last year’s postseason.
Bringing in Holder has the potential to be a low-risk, high-reward diamond in the rough. He has had some solid seasons and does have some strong qualities to his game. The Cubs will need to stack up on bullpen arms with a number of arms from last year potentially moving on. With Chicago not spending a lot of money this year it can be hard to imagine this will be the last of these types of moves.
How Jonathan Holder can be helpful for the Cubs
Looking at his career numbers, Holder can miss a decent number of bats and throw with good command. Overall he has 165 strikeouts against 53 walks in 176 2/3 innings. Biggest problem is getting hit as he sports a 9.7 H/9 the past two seasons. His walk rate and strikeout rate last season did not exactly reflect his career numbers, 4.6 BB/9 and 5.8 K/9, but it was a smaller sample size in a weird season.
His best season came back in 2018 when he pitched to a 3.14 ERA, 3.04 FIP and 1.1 WHIP in 66 innings pitched.
Holder has been mainly a fastball, cutter, curveball, slider, changeup pitcher in his career. Last year he threw mostly a fastball and offspeed pitch with an occasional curve and cutter. He’s not a fireballer, as his fastball velocity is around 92-93 MPH.
Hopefully he will be able to mix in those pitches effectively and miss more bats like he did 2017-2019 (146 strikeouts in 146 2/3 innings) as the Cubs could really use more relievers that can rack up strikeouts.
If Holder can put together a season like he had in 2017-2018 then he could be a vital part of the bullpen in 2021. He is experienced enough, he just needs to find that mojo again.