The magic of Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez has all but disappeared, and it might be time to move on, for now.
The Phillies bullpen had a lot of “ifs” going into 2019 despite the acquisitions of David Robertson and Juan Nicasio. With no defined closer, manager Gabe Kapler needs to rely on young arms such as Hector Neris and Seranthony Dominguez to get the job done late in games.
Dominguez was viewed as the closer of the future last season when he came out of the gates with a terrific first 12 games where he didn’t allow a run and held hitters to a .044 batting average. Since that stretch he’s cooled off significantly, finishing the final 41 games last season with a 3.95 ERA through multiple hot and cold spells on the mound.
Thus far in three appearances, Dominguez continues to find the strike zone and miss bats, sporting a 15.43 ERA in 2.1 innings. Coming off a third of an inning where he gave up three runs, Kapler said after Sunday’s win that the team “wanted to give Seranthony an opportunity to collect himself.”
While it’s early in the season, should Dominguez continue to struggle over the next two weeks or so, the Phillies should consider demoting the righty to figure out what he needs to figure out.
Is it mechanics, not adjusting to the game, confidence and mentality? Any of those three things can be adjusted out of the spotlight of Philadelphia and safe in Lehigh Valley.
Dominguez still has three minor league options remaining, and the Phillies have several relievers with big league experience waiting on the IronPigs roster. Victor Arano was penciled into the bullpen back in January, but a bad spring training cost him an opening day roster spot.
Arano threw a perfect inning in his season debut for Lehigh Valley, and if he continues to impress over the next two weeks he’ll be the first man up for the Phillies.
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James Pazos, who was picked up in the Jean Segura deal, would be the third lefty in the ‘pen, so I don’t see him getting an early call-up with Adam Morgan and Jose Alvarez settled in.
The same goes for southpaw Austin Davis, who hasn’t allowed a run in his first three and two-thirds innings this year.
The second pitcher Philadelphia needed to step up this year was the aforementioned Neris. When the former closer hit a wall last year the Phillies sent him down to Lehigh Valley to clear things up. After having a 6.90 ERA in his first 33 games Neris found success post-demotion with a 2.04 ERA in his final 20 games of the season.
Neris is a great case study for the Phillies showing how a month or two out of the spotlight and back in an environment that focuses more on development. Sending Seranthony down that same path could benefit both him and the Phillies in the long-run.
It doesn’t have to happen this week, but if the struggles continue to mount for Dominguez over the next month, a demotion should be in order.