Phillies: Should they try RHP Blake Parker as closer?

Blake Parker, Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Blake Parker, Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

With a 0.00 ERA and pitching to game finish in three of his last four outings, should the Phillies consider using Blake Parker as their closer?

The Philadelphia Phillies have improved their pitching, however their bullpen continues to struggle at times — including their second closer of the season, Brandon Workman. Meanwhile, Blake Parker has looked good since he was selected from the Lehigh Valley alternate site, so could he be used as closer?

Hector Neris started the year in that role, where he had two saves, three blown saves, and a 6.75 ERA in seven games — before essentially becoming the eighth inning pitcher when Workman made his Phillies debut on August 22, after being acquired from the Boston Red Sox with Heath Hembree for Connor Seabold and Nick Pivetta.

Workman has four saves and one blown save in seven games with the Phillies, but his stat line does not reflect that. The right-handed pitcher gave up four earned runs off of 13 hits and five walks, while striking out nine, in 7 1/3 innings. That’s a 4.91 ERA and 2.455 WHIP.

The Phillies have shown a willingness to make moves, so maybe a third different closer would help?

Parker has looked solid since making his season debut on August 12. He’s the only Phillies pitcher with at least four innings pitched who has a 0.00 ERA; he’s becoming used to closing out games, pitching to game finish in three of his last four outings, including the 10th inning of Thursday’s game against the Washington Nationals.

The Nationals loaded the bases, but that included the automatic runner on second and an intentional walk to Juan Soto. Those runners aside, Parker walked only one, while striking out two batters, including Trea Turner. Parker got out of the inning with a groundout to first. The Phillies ultimately won.

That outing gave Parker his third win of the season. The right-handed pitcher has given up only one unearned run off of six hits and five walks, while striking out 14, in 9 2/3 innings. That’s the previously mentioned 0.00 ERA, with a 1.138 WHIP.

Parker has outpitched Workman in a Phillies uniform this season.

Comparing Parker’s season to Workman’s time with the Phillies, Parker has surrendered fewer hits and runs, while walking the same number of batters, despite pitching in 2 1/3 innings more than Workman.

For anyone wondering how Neris compares, he gave up seven earned runs off of 14 hits and five walks, while striking out 13, in 10 1/3 innings. That’s a 6.10 ERA and 1.839 WHIP.

In addition to Parker’s impressive start to the season, he brings previous closer experience to the table. He was the Los Angeles Angels’ closer in 2018, recording 14 saves and only three blown saves, along with a 3.26 ERA. He started last season as the Minnesota Twins closer, recording 10 saves and one blown save.

The Twins also had Parker pitch in other spots, ultimately granting him free agency, where he signed with the Phillies in late July 2019. Overall, he has 34 career saves across five of his seven previous big-league seasons.

With the Phillies’ hot streak of nine wins in their last 10 games entering their weekend series against the New York Mets, why not try something different to further improve the team ahead of a potential playoff run? Parker has outpitched both Neris and Workman so far this season, making him a good option for closer.