First there was Jeanmar Gomez. And that didn't work.
Then came Juoquin Benoit, and that failed.
Hector Neris followed, but apparently now that hasn't succeeded either.
So now, there's Pat Neshek.
Of course, I'm talking here about the Phillies 2017 closer. Before Wednesday's game, Pete Mackanin announcedthat the Phillies have moved onto their fourth closer of the year. Neshek, who before this year had 7 career saves in just under 400 innings pitched as a reliever, is the new choice for tight ninth inning finishes.
Hector Neris exits the job, for now. He got his first save on April 20. Since then, he's accumulated 4 more saves. That doesn't seem like a lot, but considering the Phillies have gone 16-27 since April 20, there haven't been too many opportunities.
But it's not the save numbers that are the problem for Neris. Rather, it's that his performance as the closer hasn't been that good. Since April 20, he has a 4.74 ERA and opposing hitters have an .825 OPS against him. What's worse is that in the ninth inning this year, hitters have an even higher .874 OPS against him and he has posted a 5.79 ERA. He had a 0.77 overall ERA in May, which is stellar, but after struggling to get the final outs Tuesday night, Mackanin has decided to go with Neshek. The official word is that Neris has had a "lack of success lately" and needs to work on not hanging sliders.
Neshek has been outstanding this year. He has a 0.82 ERA and a 525 ERA+. (I know that's not that meaningful for a reliever who has pitched only 22 innings, but it's a gaudy number to include, so I did.) His FIP is 2.29, WHIP is 0.77, and bWAR 1.2. Anyway you slice it, Neshek has been very good, perhaps the only Phillie even remotely deserving to be on the All-Star team.
So everything's peachy, right? Well, putting aside any of the arguments against having one set "closer" who pitches the last three outs no matter what rather than being put into the most important highest leverage situations late in the game (not always the same as the last three outs), there's a piece of me that wonders whether this is really an in-game baseball decision or whether it's more of a decision about the July 31 trade deadline.
As many have covered (and we have mocked), Neshek could be one of the Phillies trade chips come the end of July. Will his trade value go up if he has not only a stellar ERA and WHIP, but also double-digit saves along with the vaunted closer title next to his name? I think the clear answer to that is yes.
Which makes you wonder whether this was Mackanin's decision or Matt Klentak's.