TAMPA — Clay Holmes was one of the more deliberate pitchers for the Yankees last season while often patrolling the ninth inning.
But this spring, and perhaps into the regular season, the reliever will have another weapon under — on, actually — his belt to help pick up the pace when the pitch clock is breathing down his neck.
Holmes is one of three Yankees — in addition to Luis Severino and Domingo German — who are wearing a PitchCom device on their belt in spring training, pitching coach Matt Blake told The Post on Monday.
PitchCom was introduced across MLB last year, allowing catchers to call a game by pressing buttons on the device from behind the plate that would then transmit the pitch to the pitchers through an earpiece inside their hat. But this spring, the league is allowing pitchers to have their own device on their person while on the mound — transmitting to the earpiece in catchers’ helmets — which could possibly be approved for the regular season as well.
“I think a few other guys will try it,” Blake said. “Some guys are a little hesitant — they don’t want to have to be thinking about it. But some guys want to take ownership of it. For the guys like Sevy and German who shake a lot, they almost need to wear it. Because if they’re going to shake five or six times with nobody on, they’re going to run out of time.”
That doesn’t mean Holmes, Severino and German will take over calling the whole game from the mound, but having the option to tell the catcher what they want to throw in certain situations could be valuable.
For Holmes, the purpose is twofold. He was one of the slower Yankees pitchers last season, averaging 15.8 seconds between pitches with the bases empty, according to Baseball Savant, and he now gets 15 seconds to deliver with the pitch clock.
“I’ll probably still have the catcher [who can also wear the PitchCom transmitter] call a game, but if there’s certain situations where the clock is running down and I want to throw a certain pitch, I can just press it versus having to shake to it,” Holmes said. “I think it’ll just speed that process up.”
But Holmes and Blake also like that wearing the PitchCom buttons helps with having conviction behind pitches in certain situations.
“It’s important — conviction in a pitch is sometimes the most important thing,” Holmes said. “With the clock, there may be some instances where a pitcher wants to throw something but you can’t shake because of the time. So I think it’ll just kind of clean that up a little bit — still keeping pace of play but also, you’re throwing the pitches you want to throw.”
Holmes used his own PitchCom device for the first time in live batting practice last week and then used it again on Monday while facing hitters on a back field.
“It’s just learning all the controls and exactly where they’re at,” Holmes said. “[The first time] I felt like I was just hitting all kinds of buttons. But once you figure the little system out, it’s pretty easy. There’s not a lot going on with me anyway — I just press down if I want a sinker and if I want a slider, press slider.”
Holmes said he has also played around with an abbreviated windup to help him when he’s up against the pitch clock so that he does not have to go back into the set position before beginning his delivery (which is when the clock shuts off).
While the pitch clock has been met with mostly positive reviews early in spring training, it could loom much larger in the regular season, especially in the ninth inning with the game on the line, which is where Holmes will find himself most of the time. That’s where having his own PitchCom could be helpful.
“Traditionally, you have to wait to get on the rubber and then you’re shaking through things,” Blake said. “I like the idea of, [after] you throw the pitch, you can just go right to call what you want. You have an instinct and you want to get it and go.”