Phillies reliever Hector Neris finding himself again in Triple-A

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 10: Hector Neris #50 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park on May 10, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-3. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 10: Hector Neris #50 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park on May 10, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-3. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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After completely falling apart at the major-league level, Hector Neris may soon find his way back to the Phillies roster.

The fall of Hector Neris earlier this season was one of the biggest disappointments of the first half. After being a go-to reliever for several years, the Phillies demoted him to Triple-A, hoping he could find himself.

Since being optioned at the end of June, Neris has pitched well with the IronPigs. In 18 outings, he has given up just three runs, all of which came in one inning on July 20. Otherwise, Neris has been utterly dominant. He has given up nine hits and seven walks while striking out 28 batters in 17.2 innings.

Neris did receive a blown save in that July 20 outing, but it came in the seventh inning. He recorded a save on July 28 and has six holds. He has been tasked with pitching in close games, and for the most part, he has delivered so far.

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When Neris was in the majors, the team relegated him to low-leverage situations after multiple blown or near-blown saves. He blew two save opportunities in a week to the Nationals and Mets. The straws that broke the camel’s back came at the end of June when he nearly allowed the Brewers to rally from a six-run deficit June 17, then gave up three home runs in a blowout loss to the Nationals.

In 33 appearances in the majors this year, Neris had a 6.90 ERA, 6.39 fielding-independent pitching, 1.53 WHIP, and was worth -0.7 wins above replacement. This was a stark contrast to 2016 and 2017 when Neris was arguably the most reliable reliever on the team.

However, the team believes that Neris has corrected a major issue that led to his struggles. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia wrote Friday that Neris was giving away the pitches he was throwing based on where he positioned his hands, which is a death sentence for a two-pitch reliever. Salisbury said Neris has addressed this issue and will be back in the major-league bullpen once the rosters expand in September.

IronPigs pitching coach David Lundquist told Ben Pope of Philly.com that Neris has looked much better on the mound recently:

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"“[He’s got] more consistent command of the fastball … and the splitter has been consistent in and in-and-out of the zone,” said Lundquist. “His timing and his delivery is really good right now, and he’s been getting more swing-and-miss.”"

Obviously, what Neris does in Triple-A has to be taken with a grain of salt. It is coming against a lower tier of competition, while Neris has more than 200 games of experience in the majors. Still, compared to where he was at the end of June, this is a potential sign of hope.

Whenever Neris does return, it’s likely he goes back to his low-leverage role. Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano, and Pat Neshek have become late-game staples.

Gabe Kapler and the fans both have far more trust in those guys over Neris at this point.

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Maybe Neris will get the chance to prove himself again in a high-leverage role, but who knows when that time will come.

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