After a brilliant, likely all-time great offseason, the Phillies have their sights set on a postseason berth in 2019. However, some question marks remain when glancing at the current Philadelphia roster.
The rotation, for one, has remained untouched over the course of the offseason, and seemingly, barring the acquisition of either Dallas Keuchel, or even Gio Gonzalez, looks to be set for Opening Day.
The closer position also remains a blank space, and, while he would aid them greatly, the Phillies don’t seem too keen on Free Agent Craig Kimbrel, either.
Passing on Kimbrel would be of no consequence to the organization, that is, if he weren’t the ONLY exceptional closer of the next two Free Agent classes. The only other options that scratch the surface of Kimbrel’s caliber are Arodys Vizcaino, who hits Free Agency in 2020, and Blake Treinen, who is eligible in 2021 — both of whom are not nearly as appetizing as the present Free Agent option.
So, should the Phillies elect not to sign Kimbrel, what then?
David Robertson was a brilliant acquisition for the Phillies. His reverse splits and tolerance to pressure should make him a versatile weapon in the late stages of any close game. However, Robertson hasn’t assumed the primary closer role of a club since 2016, and, since his transition, has been more potent than ever in the late-inning stopper role.
Hector Neris is a dark horse candidate for the closer role. His 14.3 K/9 was the FIFTH highest among all qualified relievers in 2018. The only names ahead of him on the list? Aroldis Chapman (16.3), Josh Hader (15.8), Dellin Betances (15.5), and Edwin Diaz (15.2). Should Neris harness his control and regain his second-half composure, he could surprise many over the course of the 2019 season.
The third and final candidate for the Phillies closing job is none other than the whiz-kid himself, Seranthony Dominguez.
Seranthony burst onto the scene in May of 2018 after being fast-tracked through the Phillies’ Minor League system. The right-hander boasted an explosive arm, combined with an impressive secondary pitch in his biting slider. He was a welcome addition to the struggling Philadelphia bullpen, who, at the time, had no definitive closer.
Dominguez stepped into the role, and was stellar at the start. Through his first 14.2 innings of work, Seranthony struck out 16 and allowed exactly 0 runs. He carried on with his success throughout the 2018 season, but seemed to tire as the months drew on, which became most evident toward the end of the Phillies’ season. However, even through his season-finishing struggles, Dominguez posted a 2.95 ERA on the year, with 16 saves, and 74 K’s over 58 frames.
This Spring, Dominguez is back at it. Through 6.1 innings, he’s posting a 1.42 ERA with 6 K’s. Yes, it’s Spring, but he looks to be raring to go for a another big year.
This begs the question, is Seranthony Dominguez the closer of the future in Philadelphia? It is not common in ultra-competitive teams to see a closer-by-committe strategy, which leads one to believe that the Phillies will set a primary closer in 2019 — eventually. Whether or not that choice is Dominguez remains to be seen, but he certainly feels like the most prominent candidate.
Regardless of who wins the job, the Phils’ bullpen looks to be one of the deepest and strongest in the National League, as well as in all of Major League Baseball. It is just another weapon that this 2019 Phillies team has at it’s disposal, and is an additional reason to get excited for what’s to come.