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Phillies Nuggets with Tim Kelly

Héctor Neris has been one of baseball’s best relievers so far in 2022

Hector Neris is in his first season with the Astros. (Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

With nearly a month’s worth of games having been played, one of the best relievers in baseball thus far in 2022 has been … Héctor Neris.

After spending parts of eight seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, Neris departed this past offseason, signing a two-year/$17 million deal with the Houston Astros in November.

It’s early, but the deal that James Click and company inked Neris to looks like a good one. Neris leads all relievers with 15 appearances, and has a minuscule 0.64 ERA to show for it. Neris’ 1.65 FIP and 0.571 WHIP back up his back-of-the-baseball-card stats.

None of this is said with an angle necessarily. While you could make a case that the Phillies should have matched the offer from the Astros, there’s something to be said for changing scenery after spending such a long time with one team to begin your career.

Dusty Baker and the Astros also aren’t asking Neris to be their closer, and he’s probably best-geared to pitch in the seventh or eighth inning, as opposed to the ninth. At the time Neris signed with the Astros, the Phillies’ No. 1 priority was figuring out the ninth inning. That’s why they signed Corey Knebel to a one-year/$10 million deal a day after Neris left to sign with the Astros, with Robert Murray of FanSided later reporting that the Phillies were willing to make a multi-year commitment to Knebel, who instead elected to bet on himself in 2022.

Would the Phillies have preferred to have Neris over one of (or even both of) Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia? Possibly, but they ultimately signed Hand and Familia to one-year deals worth a total of $12 million. Neris got a two-year deal that includes incentives that could turn an $8.5 million club option in 2024 into a guaranteed third year of a contract.

For as much as Neris was loved as a person during his time with the Phillies, he unquestionably went through some trials and tribulations on the mound. And while he ended up as one of the more accomplished relievers in team history, a split after 2022 was probably in the best interests of all parties.

If Neris has a successful stint in Houston, there will be a lot of people in the Phillies organization looking on with a smile, just as long as he doesn’t help extend the playoff drought in Philadelphia to 11 years during the final series of the regular season.

The Nuggets

  • The Seattle Mariners will host the Phillies for a three-game series at T-Mobile Park beginning Monday night. There’s a surprisingly long list of notable players who have played for both franchises, including Raúl Ibañez, Cliff Lee, Carlos Ruiz, Jean Segura, Jamie Moyer, Brad Miller, Jay Bruce, J.P. Crawford and David Bell.
  • One interesting trend so far from the 2022 season is that while Bryce Harper continues to be a run-producing machine, his walk percentage is down from 16.7% last year to just 5.9% so far in 2021. Harper had a .429 on-base percentage in his NL MVP season a year ago, but currently has a .292 on-base percentage in 2022.
  • The Mariners have a great mix of alternate uniforms, and to a degree, so do the Phillies. However, since the Phillies have turned their powder blue uniforms into a home throwback, their two best alternates — that and the cream uniforms worn for day games not played on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park — are only worn at home. Over the last couple years, the Phillies have mixed the red alternates, also their Spring Training tops, in as a road alternate. But we think they can do better, and previously brainstormed some ideas.


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