Neris, Neshek, and Benoit Standing Out
While the left-handed relievers have struggled, a few righties have stood out so far this season, and they all made appearances Wednesday night. Unsurprisingly, Hector Neris is one of those righties. He has yet to allow a run so far this season in 4.1 innings while striking out five and walking just one.
In the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Mets, Neris gave up a leadoff single to Jay Bruce. With the game within one run, there was no margin for error to allow the Mets to gain any momentum. Neris quickly killed any chance for a rally by inducing a double play ball before striking out Lucas Duda to end the inning.
Another pitcher who had a strong outing Wednesday – and is having a strong season overall – is Pat Neshek. He has yet to allow a run as well, striking out four batters in 3.2 innings. Neshek came in during Wednesday’s game just after Maikel Franco brought the game within one thanks to his grand slam, so the Mets were definitely looking to get one back off the Phillies. Neshek threw a perfect inning, striking out two in the process.
The final righty reliever who has stood out so far is newly-anointed closer, Joaquin Benoit. He has been electric since joining the Phils, and the righty is still averaging nearly 95 mph on his fastball despite being 39 years old. He has given up just one hit and two walks in four games.
Wednesday night, Benoit entered his first outing as the team’s new closer with the game still within a run. Benoit did walk a batter but struck out two in the inning, keeping the game within reach for the offense. That was not a guarantee with Philadelphia’s closer before Benoit, Jeanmar Gomez.
With several relievers standing out, no one should be overtaxed too much. Neris had to make 79 appearances in 2016, but hopefully, that shouldn’t be the case this year as Pete Mackanin should be able to split the load between a few pitchers.
In the case of Neshek and Benoit, their strong performances are certainly boosting their trade stock. Teams are always looking for a way to bolster their bullpen late in the season, and both of these players should be available in July as the trade deadline nears. Benoit will be especially attractive as a guy who can be a closer.