The Phillies are shuffling up their bullpen, as manager Joe Girardi announced to reporters today that lefty Jose Alvarado will be first in line for save opportunities for now (Twitter link via Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Hector Neris has been the team’s primary option in save opportunities this season, but he’s been tagged for six runs over his past five outings — a span of 4 1/3 frames. Neris blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s absolute rollercoaster of a game between the Phillies and Nationals.
Alvarado had his first opportunity in the seventh inning of today’s twin bill against the division-leading Mets, but Francisco Lindor lined an RBI single up the middle to tie the game at one apiece. The Mets would go on to win in the bottom of the eighth — Ranger Suarez yielded an RBI single to Dominic Smith.
It was a particularly disheartening loss for the Phillies, who got a historic performance from starter Aaron Nola. Their ace struck out ten consecutive Mets, tying a 51-year-old Tom Seaver record, notes the Athletic’s Matt Gelb (via Twitter). The blame doesn’t all fall on the bullpen, however, as the defense made a pair of errors, and Nola himself contributed two of their three overall hits in the game.
The closer shakeup isn’t the only change the Phils have brought about in the relief corps. Earlier today, the team announced that righty David Hale was being designated for assignment in order to make room on the roster for former AL Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz, who’ll be returning to the Majors for the first time since 2017. The Phils also put Sam Coonrod on the injured list due to forearm tendinitis.
Philly relievers have been worth -0.2 fWAR this season while posting the third-worst save percentage in the Majors at 46.8 percent (15 for 32), notes Jim Salisbury of NBCSPhilly (via Twitter). That said, were it not for Philadelphia’s particular case of deja vu, the concern might not be quite on red alert. The Phillies bullpen, however, has sung this song before, posting -0.8 fWAR and a 7.06 ERA in 2020. Their 12 blown saves were the third-highest number in the Majors.
It’s not all doom-and-gloom, however: with a 50 percent groundball rate, Girardi’s bullpen is burning worms at a better rate than any other team in the Majors, and their 69.9 percent left on-base percentage ranks in the middle of the pack. And yet, despite their league-leading groundball percentage, when the ball does get elevated, it’s leaving the yard at a league-worst 17.2 percent home-run-to-fly-ball rate.
It should be noted that, like most bullpens, the Phillies have dealt with their fair share of injuries. Seranthony Dominguez has been out for the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. JoJo Romero looked like a potential breakout contributor before he, too, succumbed to Tommy John.
Furthermore, free agent acquisition and veteran high-leverage bullpen arm Archie Bradley missed 37 games, and he has yet to find his game: 4.20 ERA/5.69 FIP with an uncharacteristically-low 17.4 percent strikeout rate and uncharacteristically-high 15.9 percent walk rate. Brandon Kintzler, another would-be closing option and could-be stabilizing veteran presence, has been on the injured list for 17 days (and counting) with a neck strain.
Zooming out, the Phillies have lost four in a row, dropped seven of their past 10 and fallen behind the Nationals in the division (six games behind the Mets). Though the Phillies have entered every year of the Bryce Harper era with hopes of contention – and played like contenders for parts of those 2+ seasons – they are in danger of failing to post a winning record for the tenth consecutive season. The organization hasn’t finished above .500 since its highly-successfully five-year run as division champs from 2007 to 2011.
As for this season, Girardi’s bullpen is likely to remain fluid. Case and point, Neris found himself back in a closing situation in the second game of today’s doubleheader after Bradley served up a game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh. Neris successfully picked up the save.
*The next day*
Phillies Return Hector Neris To Closer Role
He pitched the cleanest inning out of any phils reliever today, Girardi really should just keep his mouth shut, between this and the Scherzer thing.
Not even the next day. The very same day!
It was a double header, what should he have done pitch Alvarado two games in one day?
Brad Hand did it this month vs
I dunno, my comment is for fun.
They could put a horse on the mound for all I care, though that would be fun to see…
Not going to lie, your comment got a giggle out of me. Kudos
Well, since he ONLY pitched 1 inning, I’m sure that Alvarado could handle the HEAVY WORKLOAD. After all he did blow his 1st opportunity in his new “closer” role. He could’ve tried to redeem himself.
Cult of Dickie Thon
He threw 1 2/3 IP and nearly 40 pitches.
Cult of Dickie Thon
Ran out of other options after Bradley blew the save opportunity in the 7th.
Alvarado with a blown save today. Gotta think the Phillies closer role is just cursed. Maybe someone drank Jobu’s rum.
Bradley just blew one in the second game of the doubleheader, too.
And Neris gets the save in extra innings. A man cannot change his fate.
this is where relievers come to die for some reason. we could ruin Hader most likely.
Eh Billy Wagner made it out of there all right
well, before it was okay. not the past two years though. we need another Papelbon.
Darkside – Quick question, you’re a Phils fan, right? Is Harper a bit sensitive? He really seemed to be upset by getting booed last night and even gave a weird curtain call and blew the fans kisses. didn’t smile about it in the dugout or anything. He seems like he’s having his typical future hall of famer year, I dunno… I never see like Trout or Betts act like that. Is he just a bit touchy? Not trying to sound like a jerk, I’m just wondering if that’s his personality. He’s played in big media cities his whole career and any team would be lucky to have a player of that caliber.
Yeah, DarkSide! Does Harper, you know, swing for his own team, if you get what I mean?? We know you’re like his best friend and all, so you know all his dirty little secrets. I don’t really care. It’s not like it’ll change my opinion about the guy. I just need to know, you know! I mean….You think I’m his type? I’m not into that sort of thing, though. No sir. I’m so straight like you don’t even know! Super straight! What’s his number?
I don’t think it’s sensitivity. Bryce has been getting booed since he was 19. He reacts to it positively and plays wuth the fans. That rubs some people the wrong way, but let the kids play…etc. Mets fans were cursing at him the whole day and night. So when he hit a homer he made sure they knew he heard it all. I’ve seen Griffey Jr. and McCutchen interact with hecklers too. I love it. For some reason whenever Harper does something it’s put under the microscope.
Yeah. I thought it was great frankly. Just didn’t see him crack a smile. Guess that’s just him though. It’s good for the Rivalry
And now Bradley blows it (unearned run) in Game 2. Can anybody in Philly close out a game?
well yes but actually no
Bradley and Kintzler all talk no save . I hate this team.
On the day Neris lost his job, Alvarado and Bradley blew a save each. Suarez took an L in extra innings. And Neris got a save without giving up a run, even with an the runner on 2nd rule. Baseball is a weird sport.
Ducky Buckin Fent
I like things & situations that are weird/unpredictable.
Also: you Phillies phellas on the board were calling for this to happen for…what?. Gotta be over a month by now.
Funny. Phil’s front office should listen to you guys, serious.
half a decade
I never understood their infatuation with Hector Neris
Me either. I don’t think I’ve been trusted him to be shut down. Sure, he’s had his streaks. But I feel like most of the time you’re holding your breath hoping he does his job
I think it’s less an infatuation, and more a lack of better options. Yesterday proved they don’t have a viable alternative. I’m not saying Neris should keep the job, I’m just saying the results aren’t going to be good with their current roster.
VPH, same question to you that I asked Darkside above this comment. What is your take on Harper? Is it just having a few years of high expectations and mediocre team results? I mean he’s as good as he’s always been but he seemed a bit peeved by being booed by fans in a rivals park.
He’s always booed at rival parks. Since the day he came up. I think he thrives on it. I love Harper, and think he’s performing well, but he’s playing hurt this year. Getting hit in the face and wrist added with his back issues messed him up, but even with all that he has decent numbers. He’s just stuck on a team that keeps finding ways to lose. The Mets had no business winning game one yesterday, but the Phillies horrific defense found a way to blow it. They nearly did the same thing in game two. This is just a bad team that keeps finding ways to geat themselves. They need a minor rebuild…again.
Yeah, that first game had to hurt especially with Nola setting that record. Dude was filthy but the pen seems to be a real issue for you guys. Harper gets a lot more flack than he deserves. The guy is a future HOFer and a generational talent, but a lot of people don’t seem to give him the respect he deserves. Seeing WAS win after he left (especially that 2015 season he put up) probably stung but he was honorable about it, congratulated them. I love watching the guy play though. He really does give it all out on the field. Player like that deserves to be in the postseason every year. I guess I understand what he’s thinking. I actually chuckled when he blew kisses and gave a curtain call to the Citi Fans. Stuff like that makes the rivalry fun
Yeah. He has said that the Mets fans were always particularly horrific to him from back in the WSH days. So getting cursed at all day and then hitting a homer has got to feel good. As for the Phillies bullpen, I completely agree, but their defense is also to blame. Alvarado’s pitching technically shut down the Mets, but a throwing errorput a runner on 2nd. If that never happens, Phillies win. Stuff like that is going to happen sometimes, but for the Phillies it happens every game.
I used to work with a guy who was from Philly and he was in a band called Von Hayes. He’s a legend. Seriously though, I’ve seen some Phillies fans saying that they think they rushed their rebuild and overestimated their collected talent, is that where you stand? Cause I honestly think you guys on paper are just as good as the Mets, Nats, and Braves. You always 100% make the Harper sign, McCutchen is still good, Bohm, Hoskins, Didi, Segura, hell even Wheeler is improved. If they patch that bullpen up and add a front end starter they would really scare me. In fact this year I’m getting the same vibes I got in 2006 when Utley, Hamels, Howard, Myers etc replaced the old guard and I knew the next year you’d be battling us bloody. But the talent you guys have now is even better. They’re hard to read but you guys have a hell of a core. We’re lucky that we have DeGrom, Stroman, and Walker (a revelation, that guy)
It’s hard to say the Phillies rushed the rebuild when they’ve been rebuilding for nearly 10 years. I think the issue is more that their young core keeps underperforming. Guys who are supposed to be stars fizzle out. So signings like Harper, Wheeler and Realmuto have really worked out, but they’re playing with a weak core. I put the Phillies significantly below the Mets and Braves for that very reason. Bad defense. Bad bullpen. Bad bench depth. Bad starting pitch depth. The Nats are hot right now, but I put the Nats and Phillies in a similar spot. Good offensive teams with significant holes. Mets and Braves are complete teams, even though the Braves are struggling.
Ehh I’m a 39 year old Mets fan who had season tickets even during the dark ages like 2003 & 2004. I think our bullpen is a huge weakness waiting to be exposed. I don’t trust Diaz as much as I’d like to, Castro has been good but I’m still weary with him. May has been OK but they’re gonna need to upgrade in the pen and at the very least pick up a back end of the rotation starter if they want to hold on to the division. If Nimmo and Davis come back healthy we’ll be in better shape, I agree with your assessment of the division but I’ve learned to never count the Braves out, and after 2007 and 2008 even seeing the Phils uniforms and watching the Mets play at CPB, I still get PTSD. The Nats can’t trade Scherzer if he needs an extension, cause they’d need to resign him. He’s their first HOFer, and they still have most of the ‘19 Champs in tact. But even despite all that, those 2 years you guys came back in the last 2 weeks makes me remind my brother about what happened every time he starts bragging about our Mets. In particular the MVP shortstop who’s name shall not be mentioned! It ain’t over til it’s over.
Tell you what though you guys really had me freaking out until Trout signed his extension. He’s a South Jersey boy and all the talk was that Bryce was gonna woo him home to the Phillies. I was teetering on the edge those days! It’d be like putting Mantle and Mays in the same lineup and in that bandbox, yikes!
We’re the same age. I from the Queens area myself, but I’ve been a lifelong Phillies fan. So this has been a tough few years. Haha. I think the Mets have the pitching depth to really take this division, but they just haven’t been hittibg at all. It has to be frustrating.
I just after this game was telling my brother to chill out cause we still have the lowest scoring offense in MLB. No matter how good our starters are sooner or later that’ll catch up. If super OBPman Nimmo and Davis aren’t back by the deadline I don’t see how they can not make a move for a back end starter, some kind of starting depth, a reliever and some kind of hitter. I see what you mean about the Phils defense though man, that was a rough 3 games for them. The pen too. Yeah I’m from the same area, lived in PA for a little while too for college but never strayed from my boys. And like I said I still have nightmares of Brett Myers, Utley and Rollins. After the game ended today, Gary Cohen mentioned how many 1 run games we’ve played against eachother and that he thinks we are a lot more evenly matched than most people think. This feels like the beginning of a multi year Mets Phillies bloodbath going both ways
Neftali Feliz sighting. I love a good comeback story. This is like his third one at least.
The bullpen is burning worms…haha, that’s great
Hah I just caught that.. great term for inducing grounders … also… LFGM!
It’s “case in point,” not “and point.”
He blew Saturday’s save opportunity.
For a guy who was removed from the closer role,Girardi sure likes to use him as the closer. He blows another one today. The Phillies are insufferable. I have never seen a team do what they do day after day, night after night. Blow up this team now. No one should watch this over and over.
Yeah. Looks like Joe forgot to read MLBTR today.
Is Archie Bradley viable? I thought he had found success in the pen
Bradley blew the 2nd game of the double header last night. Phillies got the win, but Bradley and Bohm tried hard to give it to the Mets.
AGAIN- Neris blows another save with more unearned run. One word comes to me when I hear Neris – CASTRATION.
What’s up with Archie Bradley? He not pitching well enough? I thought he was reinvented as an ace reliever
SD is paying Melancon $2M and his league leading 23 saves.
My guys are paying Scare-us Neris $5M for his NL leading 6 blown saves.
Something is wrong with this picture.
As a Mets fan, I can admit that he did get squeezed a bit. Some of those balls could have gone the other way easily. Even Gary and Keith were saying that.
As a Phillies fan since the year Dick Allen was RoY I have never experienced what I gone through the past few years. That is a gut wrenching feeling of impending doom every time Neris takes the mound. I have wished and prayed for a REAL closer for 3+ years to no avail. A few questionable calls does not ease that. Neris is a waste of money and roster space.
As a victim of Armando Benitez, Braden Looper, and Anthony Young (look at his 92 and 93 seasons!), I can empathize with you.
Benitez is the most underrated closer in history. It was often not pretty, but he was solid, and yet every Mets fan talks about him like he was awful. Probably because the Mets cross town rivals had the best closer in history.
That was part 2 of my comment. He was actually very good and had great numbers. A lot of people around here bark that “clutch” crap but Benitez never had a chance having to go up against Mo. Hell, they were even opposite eachother in the WS
Neris and the Phillies are pathetic, Philadelphia is now the choke Capitol for all sports.
2004 ALCS still remains the ultimate choke job.
Hale to the Braves lol