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Why Ranger Suárez is Bryce Harper’s choice for NL Comeback Player of the Year


Ranger Suárez wrapped up an impressive 2021 campaign on Friday, throwing seven shutout innings against the Miami Marlins. He’ll end the season with a minuscule 1.36 ERA in 106 innings. Per the Phillies, he’s the first MLB pitcher since 1912 to throw five innings or fewer in the previous year and 100 innings or more the next season with a sub 1.50 ERA.

Ranger Suárez threw seven shutout innings in Friday’s game against Miami. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)

Suárez’s historical season isn’t getting much attention on a national scale. Part of that is due to being on a team that’s not in playoff contention. He also doesn’t fit the mold of a typical Cy Young candidate since he spent time as a long man, closer and starter this season.

Superstar outfielder and MVP candidate Bryce Harper is taking notice. Harper hugged him in the dugout following his outing and exchanged some words with him after the final out.

“Every time he goes out there, we have an opportunity to win a game,” Harper said after Friday’s win. “Every time he goes out there, no moment is too big. I’ve said it before, if we were going to get into the postseason, he was going to be one the reasons why we won it. The league hasn’t seen him. Other teams haven’t seen him. He’s been very dominant to lefties and righties in all situations.”

Harper made the case for him to take home a different award: the National League Comeback Player of the Year.

“Of course, Trey Mancini would probably be the American League Comeback Player of the Year, but my National League pick would definitely be Ranger Suárez,” Harper said. “He wasn’t able to pitch last year because of COVID. He got wiped out pretty much all year last year because of that and for him to come back and do his job like he did for us, I have no higher praise for him.”

Suárez tested positive for COVID-19 while working out at the Phillies complex in Clearwater during the shutdown last year. He quarantined at a local hotel for a month and only appeared in three games for the Phillies in 2020.

San Francisco’s Buster Posey is likely a favorite to win the award. Posey, who opted out of the 2020 season and struggled mightily in 2019, holds a .303/.388/.500 slash line in his age 34 season.

The Comeback Player of the Year award is voted on by a panel of MLB beat reporters. Suárez’s battle with COVID-19 the previous season is usually glanced over when discussing the totality of Suárez’s incredible 2021 season. Not to mention, Suárez’s 2021 season was delayed by visa issues.

Harper’s comments on Friday shed some light on the situation. Maybe Suárez could take home some hardware after this season.

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Zack Wheeler’s season is over

Speaking of awards, Cy Young candidate Zack Wheeler is done for the year. He’s not injured. Joe Girardi announced after Friday’s game that Wheeler won’t make his last start this season on Sunday in Miami. Girardi told reporters on Wednesday in Atlanta that Wheeler would have input on any decision made regarding his last scheduled start. Sunday’s starter is TBA.

“We think it’s best that his season stops,” Girardi said Friday. “We just feel like he did more than anyone could ask and we just think, again, next year is really important to us and I don’t see any reason to run him out there.”

Wheeler leads all of MLB in innings pitched (213 1/3 innings) and is one of only four pitchers this year to eclipse 200 innings. He’ll end the year with a 2.78 ERA, 2.58 FIP and 247 strikeouts, the most in the NL.

Seranthony Domínguez returns to Phillies

Before Saturday’s game, the Phillies recalled right-handed pitcher Seranthony Domínguez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In a corresponding move, Connor Brogdon was placed on the 10-day injured list with right groin tightness.

If Domínguez makes it into a game, it’ll be his first MLB outing since June 5, 2019. Domínguez has a 7.97 ERA across three levels of the Phillies minor league system this season. The 26-year-old missed most of the 2019 season and all of 2020 after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

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