The Philadelphia Phillies coming away with a 4-3 victory in Monday’s four-game series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers was not easy.
Up by two runs — with runners on the corners and just one out — manager Joe Girardi turned to closer Hector Neris to get a five-out save. During his first batter faced, the eight-year veteran allowed an inherited runner to score on a groundout and subsequent forceout at second, before limiting further damage by picking off a Brewers runner at first base — the final out of the frame.
After the Phillies failed to produce any insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, Neris getting the final three outs in the ninth to preserve a one-run lead was surely a nail-biter. Right away, he allowed a leadoff double to Daniel Vogelbach. Striking out both Luis Arias and Luke Maile swinging seemed as though the right-hander had things under control, but that was not entirely the case.
Neris went on to walk pinch-hitter Billy McKinney, as well as allowed a single to Kolten Wong — loading the bases with two outs for Lorenzo Cain, who slugged a mammoth home run to Ashburn Alley in the top of the first inning. It took Neris six pitches, but he ultimately struck out Cain swinging for the final out.
Overall, Neris tossed 40 pitches through 1 2/3 innings, while allowing two hits and a walk to his seven batters faced.
These statistics from Phillies closer Hector Neris are shocking
Ask any Phillies fan, and they would not have felt good about the chances of a victory during that stretch — especially with Neris allowing a game-deciding home run to the New York Mets in Saturday’s 5-4 loss.
With a 1-3 record on the season, Neris having a 1.88 ERA and 1.047 WHIP just seems to defy logic. Neris has entered games with three inherited runners this season, and has allowed two of them to score. The highest the Dominican Republic native’s ERA has ever been this season was 2.35, after allowing a solo home run to the Colorado Rockies in a similar 5-4 loss back on April 23.
Another recent Neris statistic that just does not seem to make sense was his home runs allowed total across all of his 24 appearances and 21 2/3 innings last season — zero. For as bad as the 2020 Phillies bullpen was, Neris never surrendered a home run during any point of the 60-game season.
Perhaps, Neris is not as bad of a reliever as many think. While many of his appearances are not pretty, he ultimately gets the job done more often than not.