Phillies Mailbag: Predictions Missed, Closer, Goeddel
Once again it's time for the weekly Phillies mailbag. We take your questions and answer them here every week. Send a question to Sports Talk Philly on their Facebook page or on Twitter at @FrankKlose.
What was something that surprised you this Phillies season?
If I had to pick one area in which I was pleasantly surprised, it would be the development of Hector Neris. In Spring Training last season, Neris seemed to get off to a little bit of a rocky start. In fact, I felt for sure that Luis Garcia would make the Phillies roster ahead of him. It was not that I did not think Neris had tools; I did, but I did not think they were ready for the Major Leagues yet heading into 2016.
Instead, Neris was of the most-used and most effective relievers. Neris appeared in 79 games for the Phillies. Only three pitchers in the National League appeared in more games: Zach Duke of the St. Louis Cardinals, Addison Reed of the Mets, and Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres. Of those players, Neris pitched the second-most innings with 80 1/3 innings.
While we knew that Neris could throw a nice fastball heading into 2016, we know now that he can control it most of the time. That means that Neris could be one of the building blocks of the next generation of Phillies bullpen.
Who do you think is the Phillies closer in 2017?
The Phillies saw Jeanmar Gomez come out of next to nowhere and save 37 games for the Phillies. That number is only two fewer than the most the Phillies ever got from Jonathan Papelbon, the franchise saves leader. That number is good for ninth all-time in Phillies history. But, we saw down the stretch that Gomez was leaking oil and lost his closer job down the stretch to Neris, who saved the final game.
I think we are seeing the closer's role changing before our eyes. Former Phillies manager Terry Francona set the tone by using his best reliever, Andrew Miller, in high-leverage situations rather than simply getting the final three outs. Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers did the same in his use of Kenley Jansen. I think going into 2017 we will see other teams pick up on this and the Phillies are no exception.
I think of the players currently on the Phillies roster, I would rank the top three bullpen arms with Neris first, Gomez second, and Edubray Ramos third. As the Phillies are into the bullpen, if a team's three, four, and five hitters are coming up in the eighth inning, I would use Neris. Gomez can come in and face six, seven, and eight in the ninth, if all goes well. It might not, but that way the Phillies will have used their best reliever against the opposition's best hitters. It is the best chance to win.
Thinking back to 2008, the Phillies had both Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. Madson went on to be a formidable closer himself and Lidge had a perfect 2008. There was almost no reason to target the three best hitters, because once the seventh inning was complete, the Phillies pretty much had the victory locked down. But with the three best relievers the Phillies have, they may be served best prioritizing them.
The Phillies probably will not be players on the likes of Jansen or Aroldis Chapman of the Chicago Cubs, both free agents. But, they probably will make a point of picking up a veteran reliever who could work into the mix with the others.
Will Tyler Goeddel make the Phillies roster next season?
The Phillies retained the rights to outfielder Tyler Goeddel by keeping him on the Phillies roster all season. Goeddel showed some tools in his time with Phillies, though it was mostly limited. Goeddel batted just .192 with four home runs and 16 runs batted in. That performance likely has Goeddel tabbed for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Goeddel had never played ahead of Double-A prior to the 2016 season, so there is a lot of development left for Goeddel. It is easy to think about the performance the Phillies got from the likes of Odubel Herrera with a Rule 5 selection, but more Rule 5 picks are Michael Martinez than Herrera in terms of performance. Goeddel will head to Triple-A likely to play every day and continue his development.
The nice thing about Goeddel in 2017, 2018, and 2019 is that Goeddel can shuffle back and forth between the minor leagues and the big leagues. This gives the Phillies some flexibility in dealing with injuries. Goeddel could play himself back onto the Major League roster with strong play, but the Phillies probably start him at Lehigh Valley.
Goeddel was somewhat of the consensus pick for the Phillies to take with their first overall Rule 5 selection and they did add him. It was a small financial gamble ($50,000) for the Phillies to make and I am sure that they are happy they did it. Goeddel turns 24 years old on Thursday and has plenty of time to develop.