Phillies April Has Been Full of Surprises

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Apr 20, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; The Philadelphia Phillies mob right fielder Peter Bourjos (17) after his walk off single during the eleventh inning against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 5-4 in the eleventh inning. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; The Philadelphia Phillies mob right fielder Peter Bourjos (17) after his walk off single during the eleventh inning against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 5-4 in the eleventh inning. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 26, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Gomez (46) celebrates with catcher Rupp (29) on the field after defeating Washington Nationals 4-3 at Nationals Park. (Phillies Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
Apr 26, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Gomez (46) celebrates with catcher Rupp (29) on the field after defeating Washington Nationals 4-3 at Nationals Park. (Phillies Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) /

One of the more unexpected and pleasant surprises of the 2016 season is the back-end of the bullpen. Jeanmar Gomez is now locking down the 9th inning as at least the closer of the moment.

Gomez has six Saves in as many attempts, just one less than Jonathan Papelbon who plays for a better team and has had more leads to protect. The team tried both David Hernandez and Dalier Hinojosa in the closer role before Gomez stepped up to claim the job. While not the prototypical power closer, Gomez is getting results with finesse and by keeping the ball in the yard.

With Hector Neris nearly lights-out in the setup role and Gomez closing, the back end of the bullpen hasn’t taken the expected hit after trading both Papelbon and Giles within four months of each other.

Neris 0.69 ERA and 13.8 K/9 has stabilized the eighth inning. His 0.769 WHIP is a testament to his ability to keep hitters off the base paths. His one home run allowed in 13 innings is identical to the numbers Gomez has posted in those categories.

Not allowing late inning home runs to derail the Phils is one more reason for the current surge and improved 2016 Phillies record. It wasn’t the case early on as the skipper had to figure out what he had in the pen before assigning roles. It looks like he’s got it right, at least for the time being.

Next: Phillies 2016 Sixth Key: the Skipper, Too

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