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Joe Girardi says Hector Neris will be Phillies closer


Hector Neris had a strong 2019 campaign. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies will have a familiar face on the mound to finish out games in 2020.

In an interview on SportsRadio 94 WIP on Thursday morning, Girardi told host Angelo Cataldi that relief pitcher Hector Neris will remain in the closer’s role to start 2020.

Neris, 30, is coming off a career-best 2019 season. When injuries riddled the rest of the bullpen, Neris took over the closer’s role in April and kept it for the entire season.

In 2018, Neris was sent down to the minor leagues after a disastrous early-summer stretch, but he quickly bounced back. He ranks eighth among all MLB relievers in K/9 and is in the top 20 in several other categories, including ERA, since he was called back up to the majors in early August of that year.

Neris was especially dominant to end the 2019 season. In his final 27 appearances, he allowed just three earned runs, good for a 1.00 ERA, which ranked best among all major league relievers during that stretch.

Of the options for closer this season, Neris made the most sense. David Robertson was set for the role last season, but was sidelined quickly with an elbow injury and after having Tommy John surgery last August, he is unlikely to return until late this season, if at all. Seranthony Dominguez was electric in his first stretch as a major league reliever, but is still working towards getting back to full strength as the season comes closer.

With Neris in the closer role, it seems likely that the eighth inning will be shared between Dominguez and Jose Alvarez, who was another consistent piece in an otherwise tumultuous bullpen in 2019.

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