Well, that was unexpected. Holmes, after a decade of being a credible reliever, washed out of the majors in 2000 by posting a 13.03 ERA for three teams. He had back surgery and spent the 2001 season out of the game, made the Braves in spring training, and then emerged as one of the stalwarts of a great bullpen (except for a stint on the DL with a thumb injury) with a 1.81 ERA. He was the only one of the bullpen free agents the Braves re-signed, and may move up to the top setup role vacated by Mike Remlinger.
Like most of the Braves’ relievers, Holmes was used as basically a one-inning man, pitching 54 2/3 innings in 55 appearances. He pitched two innings only three times all season, and had no outings longer than 1 1/3 after May 30. I guess you can do that if you have a seven-man pen.
Holmes was overshadowed by Chris Hammond’s historic season, but actually pitched just about as well. Hammond pitched 21 more innings, but their hit and strikeout rates were about the same, and Holmes’ control was much better. Hammond (a) was a little luckier, and (b) gave up only one home run all season. Not re-signing Hammond was a little controversial, but I think given the choice between Hammond and Holmes the Braves made the right call. Holmes is (in my opinion) a better bet to pitch well in 2003, maybe 60:40.