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Yankees' Clay Holmes Shut Down With Shoulder Sprain; When Will He Pitch Again?

Clay Holmes has a shoulder strain and is unlikely to pitch again until the American League Division Series.

NEW YORK — Clay Holmes looked like the first-half version of himself on Monday in Toronto, inducing three ground balls in a scoreless ninth inning against the Blue Jays.

At the time, that outing fit the narrative of Holmes righting the ship, finding a groove before the calendar flips to October. 

Could the right-hander recapture his form in the back end of the bullpen, washing away what's been a rocky last few months since his trip to the All-Star Game?

The Yankees won't be able to answer that question until the American League Division Series and possibly even later than that.

Holmes is dealing with a strain in his right shoulder, Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed after Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. The right-hander received a cortisone shot on Thursday and is unlikely to appear again before the end of the regular season, per Boone.

"It's a concern, but I feel like we're trending in a good direction," Boone said, remaining positive. "I think the biggest thing for us is is he going to be ready for that first two games of the Division Series, and that's kind of the timeline it seems like we're on right now."

Holmes explained that he first felt soreness after that last outing in Toronto. He wanted to be overly cautious, making sure he's ready to embark on what could be a lengthy postseason run. After an MRI, it was determined that he has some inflammation in his rotator cuff area and the best medicine for now is to stop throwing.

"Nothing that's too worrisome, but just kind of where we're at in the season and maybe the workload that's coming, we just want to play it smart and make sure it's right before the postseason comes up," Holmes said.

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Holmes began the season with an 0.46 ERA across his first 38 appearances of the season, a stretch that extended from Opening Day to July 9. From that point on, including a stint on the injured list with lower back spasms, the right-hander has posted a 5.92 ERA in 24.1 innings.

The 29-year-old insisted that he's "very optimistic" he'll be good to go for the postseason and that he'll stay as sharp as he can by locking it in for live sessions against hitters once he's ready to throw again. Keeping his mechanics and delivery in check are the most important parts of his game, pivotal in producing those pre-All-Star Game results.

"For me, if I see a hitter in the box and my sinker's moving like it is, I know I can go in a game and trust it," he said.

Holmes' injury comes on the same day that Zack Britton exited the game with left arm fatigue, a concerning setback for a pitcher that's trying to work back from Tommy John surgery. Left-hander Wandy Peralta is already on the injured list while other healthy relievers, like Aroldis Chapman, have a question mark hanging over them when it comes to their effectiveness and standing for this club's postseason roster.

"It is what it is," Boone said. "We're trying to get them all healthy and ready. Still feel like we have really good options down there. There's no use crying about what you do or don't have. You've got to make the most of what you do. And the reality is we still have a lot of really talented guys down there and like Clay, for example, I do feel like he's gonna be right back in that mix."

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