Best Braves Free Agents: Darren Holmes

ATLANTA – OCTOBER 2 : Darren Holmes #40 of the Atlanta Braves delivers the pitch during game one of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia on October 2, 2002. The Giants defeated the Braves 8-5, giving them the first win in the five-game series. (Photo by: Doug Pensinger /Getty Images)

Who Was he?
I only managed 4 at bats during my senior year of high school as I was middle reliever with the hitting chops of your average Stoughton Bottle. The only plate appearance I still remember was a 3 pitch strikeout at the hands of a right-handed flame-throwing sophomore who was in the process of no-hitting my team. That was Darren Holmes. He kept teasing us by throwing hooks and a nasty slider in the warmups between innings, but when it counted, he just threw cheese right by us.

2 years later I heard that he had signed with the Dodgers as a 16th round pick which seemed really low for his talent but apparently everyone was certain he would honor a commitment to UNC and the bums took advantage. Arm injuries and whatnot kept Holmes from making the majors until 1990 where he was a slightly better than average middle reliever for a decade before suffering what most expected to be a career-ending shoulder during the 2000 season. The injury kept Darren off the field all 2001 and for 2002 he ended up accepting a spring NRI from his hometown nine.

What Was He Like?
By the time he reached the Braves, Holmes fastball velocity had dropped to 90-92 with occasional spikes up to 94 or so. He threw the pitch about 50 percent of the time and then it was curveball time. Sir Charles was one of the best benders of the early aughties. A true 12-6 breaker, Holmes would throw it in any count to any batter and he could throw it for strikes — usually early in the count — or bury it under the zone for a swinging strike 3.

So, What Happened Then?
Signed for the MLB minimum of $315k, 2002 was one of those magical seasons where everything was absolutely perfect. A guy who had always given too many free passes, for that one season Holmes became Christy Matthewson, walking just 12 batters in 55 innings (0.5/9 innings). That curveball that had captivated us back in the day was always sharp, always well placed, and usually resulted in a turn back to the dugout.

Holmes managed a 1.24 ERA through April and while he couldn’t keep that pace going all season he made it through 55 innings at a 1.81, good for 1.6 fWAR. He followed it up by striking out 5 in 2.2 innings during the playoffs.

2003 saw a new 1-year contract for $700k, and unfortunately things went worse for the now 37 year old. He managed a league average performance between 2 stints on the DL. Retirement followed. Holmes currently lives in his hometown of Asheville and had accepted the position of bullpen coach for the Orioles before the shutdown.

35 thoughts on “Best Braves Free Agents: Darren Holmes”

  1. Alex Remington (Another Alex R.)says:
    This is my shocked face.

    Timo says:

    “As for how the Braves will proceed without Hamels, Bowman lists touted young righty Kyle Wright, veteran RHP Josh Tomlin and lefty prospect Tucker Davidson as candidates for the last spot in their rotation.”

    Gotta be Wright over Tomlin and Davidson, right?

    Timo says:

    I had not heard about it until today (from NY Post):

    “Howie Kendrick, Victor Robles and Washington’s best hitter, Juan Soto — had yet to attend camp with the Nats providing no reason to reporters. A club can only announce whether a player is absent for reasons associated with coronavirus with the player’s permission.”

  2. @Timo

    Word on the street is Tucker Davidson, to no one’s surprise that has watched his transformation over the last few years, worked his butt off AGAIN in-between 1.0 and 2.0 and is the talk of camp. It’d not surprise me to see him there.

  3. No shame striking out against Darren Holmes — that’s so cool!

  4. @5

    LOL…well that swung pretty dramatically in less than 24 hours. Must’ve just got his negative tests this morning or something.

  5. Leeds officially back to the Premier League. That concludes the news for today.

  6. Not only did he test positive, but that means we’ve walked away from contract discussions with him, apparently.

    In case you forgot about the Furcal rule, it goes double for COVID-19 times.

  7. Seems a reasonable chance Puig signs again with the Braves if he gets over it quick. If not, then who knows.

  8. Chief, you better buckle up, buddy. There’s going to be lots of comings and goings with guys and COVID.

    Just like, ya know, the rest of the population.

    Talk about the Furcal Rule!

  9. Leeds United getting brought up (and congrats to them on their promotion) reminds me that I mentioned a week or two back that the MLS return-to-play tournament might provide some limited insight (they’re in the same basic Disney World bubble that the NBA is, not home venues) as to how restarting might go for MLB.

    At the time (which was around 24 hours before the kickoff of the tournament), I mentioned that one team had already withdrawn due to having a gaggle of players test positive for COVID-19 and that another was hanging by a thread. Well, the other also eventually was forced to withdraw. So that wasn’t good news, obviously. (These teams were Dallas and Nashville, respectively, for the record.)

    However, it seems like everyone involved came to the conclusion that the situation went south for those teams due to mishandling of virus protocols in the early days of training in their local markets. Since the departure of those two teams and the full effect of the bubble set in, the only blips in terms of positive COVID tests were a couple of (apparently) false positives that forced the 24-hour postponement of a game. Other than that, it’s been pretty smooth sailing so far for the MLS is Back Tournament on the COVID front.

    Now, the obvious thing is that the breakdown with the two withdrawn teams happened in their home markets…and MLB will be nothing but home markets. So stick a pin in that.

    But it does seem like it’s within the realm of possibility to conduct a sports league in a reasonably safe fashion in this country right now, if the week-and-a-half of this tournament is anything to go by. As long as the league and each team has good protocols and sticks to them, that is. (Note that I did not comment on whether it was advisable from a moral standpoint, before Chief jumps on me for that. I have my own opinions on that, but will leave folks to come to their own conclusions there.)

    Another thing to note is that, like with baseball, all “preseason” training (MLS had actually played a couple rounds of regular-season games before shutting down in March) was jammed into about a three-week window, and as such, the level of play from most teams in their first game was…well, not good. Now soccer is less of a binary sport than baseball is in that it’s very possible for both teams to look like crap at the same time in a soccer game, whereas with baseball, if the pitcher is terrible than things are probably going well for the other team’s offense and vice versa. But generally speaking, it would probably be best to expect the first week or so of baseball games to look pretty rough.

    Also, don’t ask me how Atlanta United is doing from an on-field standpoint in this tournament…the less said about that, the better. But I digress…

  10. This “season” is a complete and utter farce. Whenever the last game is played, the players should just walk off the field and go home. No dog pile, no champagne, nothing.

    I am not trolling. I believe this. Truly.

  11. Well they aren’t allowed to high five so I do suspect you won’t see your normal walk off celebrations.

  12. Bowman speculated that with the news of Puig that they will carry both Charlie and Solarte on the bench.

    Assuming Tomlin too, that would mean 2 DFA’s. Probably as Ryan speculated Dayton and Sobotka would be the 2 most likely.

    CF Acuña
    2b Albies
    1b Freeman
    DH Ozuna
    LF Duvall
    3b Riley
    C D’Arnaud
    SS Swanson
    CF Inciarte
    Utility: Camargo
    C Flowers
    IF Hechavarría
    Utility: Culberson
    Utility: Solarte
    RHP Soroka
    LHP Fried
    RHP Folty
    LHP Newcomb
    RHP Wright
    RHP Melancon
    RHP Greene
    RHP Martin
    RHP Jackson
    RHP O’Day
    RHP Webb
    LHP Minter
    RHP Wilson
    RHP Tomlin
    LHP Davidson

  13. And RHP Weigel. Ran out of time to edit my previous comment.

    And it should have Acuña in RF.

  14. @Braves14

    Let’s not forget that 30 has to be 28 in 2 weeks, then 26 in 4.

    This makes things remarkably complicated.

    Will Smith should be coming back at some point. One of Culberson or Solarte might make the cut, but the Braves could benefit greatly by keeping them in the player pool. Once they’re up, they cannot be optioned as neither have options.

    There’s still things we don’t know in regards to roster movement, and while I expect normal rules apply, there hasn’t been solid info regarding the yoyoing of players from MLB squad to player pool.

  15. I’m looking forward to the twice a week visit by Chief to a baseball blog to tell us all how bad the baseball season is.

  16. Never thought the name of Leeds United would feature so often in these pages. Arsenal beat Man City this afternoon to set themselves up for the Cup Final in 2 weeks, faintly unbelievable. As best I know, to watch these FA Cup games on ESPN plus you can’t use chrome, won’t take it.

    In return, can anyone advise this one locked into Dish for this and other summers is there any hope elsewhere for Braves games? About time these Fox regionals are brought down a peg or two, thanks, I know we have at least one wizard on board, he was most helpful last summer, can’t of course remember his name or his methods. ‘Age, and then the only end of age’. Philip Larkin.

    Can’t believe it, Arsenal 2 Manchester City 0, we’re in the Cup Final!!

  17. Toronto can’t even play in their own country. You think the infection rate for players for Houston, Tampa and Miami will be the same as other franchises(Milwaukee)?

    It’s a farce and should have an asterisk the size of Steve Spurrier’s ego next to it.

  18. Yonder Alonso made the roster, which I don’t really understand.

    Tomlin is getting hammered again. I believe he has gotten hit hard every outing this camp.

  19. 24 — I suspect the piggy backers will be sent down as the rosters contract and the starters get more stretched out.

  20. @27

    You leave the Ol’ Ball Coach out of this! :)

    I think Toronto needs to figure out how to play baseball games. That seems like a problem with Toronto, not MLB…

  21. Toronto will play likely play either at their spring training home in Dunedin, Fla., or at their Triple-A ballpark in Buffalo. I’m sure they’ll get it figured out. With no fans in attendance, it doesn’t particularly matter, I don’t suspect, although I’d rather play in Buffalo if I were them.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s not MLB’s problem, but the Blue Jays do seem well on their way to figuring it out.

  22. Tomlin has looked hittable, per usual, and Alonso is such a meh option that I truly don’t understand why they didn’t seek a better LH bench bat this offseason.

    Culberson’s path just got much harder, but I envision him as a regular on the taxi squad that travels with the team.

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