After blowing three of his last four save attempts, Héctor Neris is no longer the Philadelphia Phillies closer.
Ahead of Friday’s doubleheader with the New York Mets, manager Joe Girardi told the collective media – including Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer – that José Alvarado “will get the first crack at save opportunities for now.”
Alvarado, 26, possesses as good of a pitch repertoire as perhaps any reliever that the Phillies have ever employed. The problem is that Alvarado also has walked 23 batters in 2021. Alvarado is 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 29 games this season, but he also has a 3.41 expected ERA and a 4.46 FIP. Girardi – a former teammate and manager of Mariano Rivera – will hardly be getting a sure thing in the ninth inning in Alvarado.
Of course, part of the reason that Neris had such a long leash as closer is because there wasn’t another obvious replacement for him.
Some thought that Archie Bradley should have been the closer from the start of the season, but the 28-year-old has had an injured list stint and has a -0.2 fWAR in 18 games this season. Connor Brodgon and Sam Coonrod have also been mixed bags in 2021.
The Phillies currently have the 27th bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.50. This comes a year after a historically-bad unit posted a league-worst 7.06 ERA.
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