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Clay Holmes’ Sinker is One the League Has Never Seen
By: Jacob Yang
After Clay Holmes was traded to the Yankees last year, he has nearly perfected his sinker, one that no one can hit.
Holmes said he was seven when he threw his first ball, which happened to be a sinker. His fingers were naturally along the seams, not across them, which gave the ball a spinning motion. Now, after completing his first season with the Yankees, he stated, “The sinker is going to be my ticket. I need to really figure out how to make it as good as it can be.”
Joining the major league in 2011 after being drafted by the Pittsburg Pirates from an Alabama High School, Holmes stated that he had a lot of trouble fitting in. Holmes stated last Thursday that after being drafted, “I had a lot of people saying to go with a short-arm action, to make so many big mechanical changes … Ultimately, I went against it, because I knew there was maybe a risk of losing my sinker.”
Now, fans are sure that he will be named to an All-Star team on Sunday, when all notable players will be announced by Major League Baseball. In 17 total saves, he rescued 16 balls, and in 142 bats, 0 were home runs. The All-Star game in 4 days will conclude Holmes’ first year with the Yankees. It was because him and his new team both knew that, with practice, he could have a deadly sinker.
Even if Holmes throws a four-seamer (a challenging throw that results in the ball dropping faster) instead of the usual two-seamer, it still spins in midair. “I don’t know, I just can’t get a ball to stay on a line.” Before the trade deal, Holmes started working on getting a ball straight. His pitch did not need to be so precise; he could throw it over the base and it would give the same result. Now, Clay Holmes has perfected his sinker.
Many people think of Holmes like Kevin Brown, who played from 1986-2005. His sinker felt very “heavy and mean,” similar to what Holmes’ throw is. Michael King, one of Holmes’ new teammates, said “You never see the bottom of the ball from him, because out of his hand it’s just coming straight down. You can only see the top of the ball, and if you make contact, it’s going to be a ground ball. That’s why you get so many ugly swings from elite hitters.”
In recent years, the sinkerball has been out of use since many batters know and practice how to hit one. However, now that Holmes has come into play, the old solution does not work. His throw both goes down and spins, making many batters misjudge and do not hit it. His launch angle goes east-west instead of up-down.