Colin Holderman seemingly has been moved down the pecking order of the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen.
The Pirates recently signed left-hander Aroldis Chapman to a one-year, $10.5-million contract as a free agent. The seven-time All-Star will likely be the primary set-up man for closer David Bednar, who has been selected to the last two All-Star Games.
However, Holderman still figures to play a prominent role for the Pirates this year and get plenty of usage in high-leverage situations. He had a solid first full major-league season last year when he finished with a 3.86 ERA and two saves in 58 games.
In addition to becoming a first-time father, Holderman has spent the offseason working on his pitch arsenal. Holderman is looking to add a four-seam fastball and changeup to a repertoire that includes a cutter, sinker and sweeper.
“Both have been looking pretty good metrically and I’m excited about them. Just something to throw in when someone’s on my stuff,” Holderman said. “Some people hit things east and west better than north and south, so it’d be good to have something on a different plane against guys who hit my style of pitching a little bit better. A lot of guys handle the two-seamer and slider pretty well, so it’d be nice to have a changeup and four-seamer against them.”
Holderman threw both new pitches as well as a curveball when he entered professional baseball in 2016 after being selected in the ninth round of that year’s amateur draft by the New York Mets. Mastery of the curve has eluded Holderman over the years and he has decided to put that pitch on the shelf permanently.
Relief pitching looks to be one of the Pirates’ strengths with the start of spring training only one week away. In addition to the three pitchers at the backend of the bullpen, the Pirates have left-hander Ryan Borucki and right-handers Carmen Mlodzinski and Dauri Moreta.
Holderman showed last season that he can be dominant at times. He had two streaks of 10 games without allowing a run and another spanning eight games.
“We’ve got some nasty dogs down in the ‘pen who are getting after it and going out and shutting the door,” Holderman said. “This year, we’re excited to show what we can do.”
Holderman will also arrive in Bradenton as a new dad. He and his wife had a daughter named Tanner on Nov. 7. No, she wasn’t named after Chuck Tanner, the last manager to lead the Pirates to a World Series title in 1979.
“It’s one of the best things in the world but not when you’re trying to sleep at night, then it’s one of the worst things, but we’re settled in and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and it’s awesome,” Holderman said. “Everything has been put in perspective and I’m motivated to go out and play for her. And I’m really excited to get to spring training and show off what I’ve been working on.”
He’ll have plenty to show at Pirate City next week with a four-seam fastball, a changeup – and a baby girl.