The Hector Neris Debate
I don't think that is is absurd to say that Hector Neris has been THE biggest talking point among Phillies fans recently.
After blowing a 3 run lead in the Top of the 9th on Saturday, Neris was questioned by the fanbase more than he has ever been.
I believe the consensus around the fanbase is that Hector Neris should not be the closer anymore. This is a poll I did on my Twitter account:
The results sort of surprised me. Although my followers do not speak for the entire fanbase, it still is at least a decent sample size.
Hector Neris is just such a strange case to me. On the one hand, Neris has a 3.16 ERA(pretty good for a closer) and 9 saves on the year. But it does feel like he has blown saves left and right in his time with Philadelphia, never really gaining that consistency for a long period of time.
People that follow me know that I could claim the biggest Hector Neris defender in this entire city. The reason for this is that I believe Hector is the definition of an average closer in the MLB. He is never going to be the level of Jean Segura's son(otherwise known as Aroldis Chapman) or Kenley Jansen, but what closer are you going to find that is? Guys like Mark Melancon, who was in Free Agency last offseason, are never going to sign here.
But now, times are different. Before, there was really no big option that would even be any better then Neris in that closing spot. I believe there are some options now that should be considered in the 9th inning. I am going to go through those and then come to my final conclusion on Neris.
Bradley was the Phillies biggest bullpen acquisition of the offseason, but he has struggled to stay healthy up until this point. After his injury, he also struggled to gain back his good form and put up a lot of lackluster performances. Although all these seem like a recipe for disaster, Bradley's performance against the Yankees in the 10th inning gave people hope. He shut down the order while stranding the runner on second, eventually clinching the victory after they walked it off in the bottom of the inning. But that was one game, and Archie seemed to struggle in LA last night when he pitched in the 8th. My verdict on him is a little iffy, as I need to see it consistently before I consider putting him over Neris.
This would be absurd to say before the season, but Ranger Suarez has been the best arm out of this bullpen for the past 2 months. He had a perfect 0.00 ERA through his first 20.1 innings pitched, and now is holding steady at a 0.79 ERA. Although he has mostly pitched behind a struggling starting pitcher in the early innings, more recently we have seen him pitch the later innings. He even has appeared in the 9th inning. I think the biggest question is just if he is ready for these high-leverage situations yet. There is also the question if he was to become the closer, who would pitch when the starting pitcher struggled? I feel like there are too many questions without answers.
Brogdon showed a lot of potential towards the end of last season, but has definitely disappointed this season. It would be unfair to expect him to make that huge step this year, but it seems that the Phillies think he is ready for it. They have put him in high pressure situations all year, maybe less often recently. This would probably be the least popular option out of the ones I have listed, but we have seen him have success in late innings before.
Not One Consistent Guy
I think the only other option that is available is to not have one set closer. Wether that be a mix of Hector and Archie, Hector and Brodgon, Archie and Suarez. This is really not popular among teams, especially not contending teams, but if the Phillies believe Neris cannot seem to stay consistent this could be something to try. Giving him prolonged rest is at least something they could try.
I don't think you can switch to any of the guys mentioned here. Neris may be frustrating, he may make things harder then they seem to be, but he is the best option you have currently. Stats can be deceiving, but Neris did have a 1.90 ERA and 1.01 WHIP before the blown save against New York. I think the only way you go away from Neris is if Bradley can show you consistent success in the 8th inning or later.
And until that time comes, I will continue to say that Hector Neris is underrated.