Phillies Mailbag: Suarez, Neris, McCutchen’s Injury
We are back again with our weekly 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill. Tune in Tuesday afternoons to listen as we discuss your questions!
Is Ranger Suarez the answer for Phillies closer?
The Phillies surprised people on Saturday night a little bit. Despite having Jose Alvarado and Ranger Suarez warming, the Phillies bullpen doors opened, and to protect a lead in came Suarez. And Suarez got the job done with a 1-2-3 9th inning.
If I was making the decision, I would allow Suarez to have the opportunity to close games. I feel like he is a better, left-handed version of Jeanmar Gomez, who managed to rack up 37 saves for the Phillies in 2016. What they have in common is that they just get to work and go after the hitters.
It's worth noting that Suarez was charged with two blown saves in 2021. One was on an earned run in 1 2/3 innings work. The other was with inherited runners scoring. That is bound to happen, particularly when you go after hitters.
I think Suarez entering with clean innings, will result in saves most of the time. That will allow Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and the other cast of bullpen characters to maintain familiar roles.
Is it time to simply cut ties with Hector Neris?
The latest adventure with Hector Neris came on Sunday. Entering the ninth inning, with the Phillies down four runs, Neris was tasked with holding things where they were. Instead, he departed with a 10-run San Diego lead, and passed the ball to a knuckleballing Andrew Knapp to get the last out.
Generally speaking, relievers are up and down. Neris had a really tough year in 2018. He eventually worked his way to the back of the Phillies bullpen again. Could this be just another bad year?
What's different about this year is that this is the last year of the rookie deal for Neris. That means he is set to be a free agent. There is no financial commitment beyond 2021 for the Phillies.
That could mean that someone would be willing to make a trade for Neris, hoping the change of scenery would help hi find his old form. Perhaps there is another reliever that the Phillies can take a similar chance with.
One name I would like to see the Phillies check in on is free agent Cam Bedrosian. The son of Steve "Bedrock" Bedrosian, the 1987 Cy Young Award winner as Phillies closer, Cam Bedrosian has had some relief success. He's a free agent after a roster crunch in Oakland.
But it will be difficult for the Phillies to find comfortable spots for Neris right now.
If McCutchen is going to be out, what do the Phillies do?
Perhaps the biggest blow on Sunday was the departure of Andrew McCutchen from the Phillies outfield in the ninth inning. McCutchen sensed some tightness in his oblique and did not want to mess with it. Oblique strains often mean a month of missed time.
An injured list stint probably creates one final opportunity for Matt Joyce to show that he belongs on a major league roster still. Joyce slumped his way throughout the 2021 season thus far, batting just .100 after 50 at bats.
I would imagine the playing time would go to Brad Miller when facing a right-handed hitter, and perhaps Luke Williams when facing a left-handed pitcher. Travis Jankowski will get extra time, too; he has performed for the Phillies thus far.
I thought Corey Dickerson might be a nice fit with the Phillies again, but he already went to the Toronto Blue Jays in trade.
McCutchen was the hottest Phillies hitter in the Month of June, batting .301 with eight home runs and 20 runs batted in.
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