The Phillies have won two straight games for the second time this season. To do so, they used Hector Neris to close out the games, unannounced. He’s the third closer of the year.
Let’s go through the timeline of closers the Phillies employed just 16 games in.
In spring training, Mackanin was adamant about Jeanmar Gomez starting this season in the closer’s role. He squeaked out a save in Cincinnati, despite giving up a two-run home run, making it a one-run save. Gomez’s luck ran out in his next save opportunity against Washington, when he allowed a game-tying three-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman.
It was later announced, as expected, that Gomez was out and Joaquin Benoit would assume closing duties. Benoit was successful in his first save attempt against Washington, but he, too, slipped up his second attempt when Bryce Harper went deep for a walk-off three run home run.
In the Phillies’ 6-4 win over the Mets Thursday, it was Hector Neris who sealed the victory in the ninth. Mackanin’s reasoning? “I want to make sure he’s given plenty of rest,” reported Matt Gelb of Philly.com. He was speaking of Benoit, who pitched Thursday night, but was used in the eighth inning. That doesn’t make much sense, if Mackanin’s reasoning was to rest him.
Then yesterday, it was announced that Neris would be used as the closer if the opportunity presented itself. And it did. Neris, though allowing a home run, his first run of the year, came in and did the job. Neris hit a milestone for Phillies closers this year, already. He’s the first pitcher to save two consecutive games.
But he still hasn’t been named the closer. Mackanin did take his first step in the Neris camp when saying to Matt Breen of Philly.com, “When he throws that split and throws it well, he’s the best man for the job in my opinion.”
Most of us figured Gomez wasn’t cut out for the job, and lose it early, which is exactly what happened.
But after that, Pete Mackanin has been unpredictable. And even now, he still hasn’t named a closer.
There are so many questions with the musical closers Mackanin has employed.
Why Gomez to start the year? Why Benoit next, when Neris is your best reliever? Why pull Benoit after one blown save, to Bryce Harper of all people? Why Neris the next two nights? Did you tell Benoit and Neris their roles might be shifted those two nights? Did Mackanin know he made a mistake in not naming Neris the closer the second time and is trying to hide it by easing him in without naming him?
These are not the type of questions we should be having about our manager. He’s not being clear or transparent to us. I hope he is with his team. It’s been very confusing.
In the meantime, it’s about time Neris has closed some games. He’s the only pitcher in the bullpen with a put-away pitch. The fact that it took Pete two other guys to do so is a bit concerning, after he admitted he’s the best man for the job.
The next question we ask – Why hasn’t Hector Neris been named the closer?