This year’s baseball season may be the most anticipated season ever in the history of Mississippi State athletics. As we prepare for the season, I will do a Fact or Fiction each day this week about the baseball team as we lead into the first game against Hofstra on Friday. Today, just how good is Jonathan Holder?
There isn’t a better pitcher for Mississippi State than Jonathan Holder.
It’s pretty hard to argue with someone if they are making this claim. Most teams would prefer their best pitcher be a starter, and that may end up happening for Holder when he gets to the Major League levels, but Holder isn’t an All-American closer for nothing.
Holder has been as good as they come since he first set foot in Starkville. He took control of the closer role late in his Freshman year, and he has had a firm grip on it ever since. It’s also hard to argue that there isn’t another pitcher on the roster that Head Coach John Cohen and Pitching Coach Butch Thompson have more faith in than Holder. Whenever it got past the sixth inning, and the Bulldogs had the lead, Cohen was likely to turn to Holder as soon as Cohen thought he needed to lock the game down. There were also a number of occasions that Cohen went to his ace closer early in the game to try to stop the bleeding if the other team started hot offensively.
The numbers that Holder posted last year are jaw dropping. He had 34 appearances, and had 54 innings pitched, meaning he went more than one inning in a lot of his appearances. He had a 1.65 ERA to go along with 90 K. He averaged right at 15 strikeouts per 9 inning pitched. Those are some seriously dominant numbers.
There are two things that make Holder so good. The first is his command of his fastball. Unlike a lot of closers and strikeout pitchers, Holder doesn’t simply overpower hitters and dare them to catch up to his fastball. He has a good one, but what makes it so good is his ability to put it exactly where he wants it. Another reason it is a good pitch is because it keeps hitters honest when they are looking for that devastating curveball he possesses. That curveball is the second reason he is so dominant. It is the very definition of a 12-6 curveball. The break on it is so big that it can start above a hitter’s head, and drop all the way to their knees, leaving a hitter helpless to try and hit it.
This one is 100% fact. I think we are going to have a better starting staff this year because I believe Woodruff and Lindgren are going to be healthier and might allow one of them to have a year close to what Stratton had back in 2012. But even if they do, there isn’t a pitcher more feared than Jonathan Holder. They know he’s going to cut ‘em down.