In the final game of what was a disappointing 2021 Philadelphia Phillies season, Héctor Neris ended the year with at least a taste of positivity by etching his name into the Phillies’ history books.
Néris broke the franchise record for career strikeouts by a reliever with 520. Fittingly, he did so on the pitch that has given him most of his success over his eight seasons with the team, his signature splitter. Jazz Chisholm was the victim of punchout No. 520, which was technically recorded before Andrew Knapp fired over to Brad Miller on the dropped third strike to record the out.
It wasn’t the cleanest overall outing for Neris, whose five straight outs (including three strikeouts) didn’t come until after he surrendered a two-run homer to Nick Fortes. But given the magnitude (or lack thereof) of Game 162 for the eliminated Phillies, the long ball shouldn’t overshadow Neris’ historic accomplishment.
As the longest tenured Phillie, Neris has had his fair share of ups and downs in red pinstripes, but despite a few rough patches, he’s posted a solid career ERA of 3.42, and a 2.51 mark since July 6 of this season. Now, he adds a historic accomplishment to his résumé.
Neris will be a free agent this offseason, so it’s unclear how much the gap between him and the previous record-holder, Ron Reed, will grow — if at all. Manager Joe Girardi ran his pitch count up to 28, perhaps with that uncertainty in mind. If so, Neris gave Girardi what he wished for, and if fans were hoping for some good news on the last day of an anticlimactic weekend, Neris delivered.
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