Phillies fans are officially sick of the Hector Neris debate

Hector Neris #50 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Hector Neris #50 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Phillies suffered a crushing defeat to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night. Both Hector Neris and Enyel De Los Santos blew multi-run leads in the 12-inning contest.

Neris is now 1-3 with a 2.93 ERA and six saves in eight opportunities this season. Making his debut in 2014, Neris has survived the tenures of managers Ryne Sandberg, Pete Mackanin, and Gabe Kapler.

Fans grow tired and impatient from watching Neris in the closer position seemingly every season. Yet, he remains in the position to carry the majority of the closer role workload time after time. Manager Joe Girardi even gave Neris a vote of confidence after he gave up a game-tying, pinch-hit home run to Pablo Sandoval.

Phillies fans should not have to be patient with Hector Neris.

Neris is not a terrible MLB pitcher. His splitter has been effective at times, and his statistical strengths merit serious consideration when evaluating him. Neris has only blown two saves this season and the Phillies have some remaining reason to believe he can pitch effectively moving forward.

Despite the organization’s optimism and patience regarding their struggling closer, Phillies fans are entirely justified to react to Neris’ struggles with vehement frustration.

The team has not reached the postseason since 2011, and Neris is in his seventh season of extended time in the majors. He still has not reached the point where fans have any kind of comfort level when he takes the mound.

Neris will remain a polarizing figure in all conversations about the Phillies. Some will point to the extended major league track record and acceptable statistics in his defense, and many will be furious whenever he struggles.

However, these conversations have been taking place for far too long. No one in the Phillies organization should expect patient reactions to the failures of a closer for a team that, once again, is being held back by its struggling bullpen.

Who could replace Hector Neris as the Phillies closer?

Last season, Neris was the logical choice as the most frequently used closer in a historically futile bullpen — which featured countless failed relievers, such as Deolis Guerra, Brandon Workman, Reggie McClain, and David Phelps. Neris saved five games in eight opportunities, posting a 4.57 ERA.

The Phillies made offseason acquisitions to improve their bullpen entering 2021. They have more suitable options to replace Neris at the back end. Despite an early injury to Archie Bradley, both Sam Coonrod and Brandon Kintzler offer a greater comfort level in high-leverage spots. A change in bullpen roles and a demotion for Neris is necessary.

Acquired in an offseason trade with the San Francisco Giants, Coonrod, 28, offers a high-powered fastball that was on full display last week — when he recorded a five-out save on a night when Neris was unavailable. Kintzler has saved 61 games in 12 big-league seasons — including 12 in 14 opportunities for the Miami Marlins last season.

Despite a strong potential shown by relievers Jose Alvarado and Connor Brogdon, entrusting either with closer duties is very unlikely to ensure stability without Neris in the role. There is no definite timetable for Bradley’s return.

Although Neris is likely to continue as the closer — given the organization’s continued patience with him — continuing the tired storyline of rollercoaster rides in the ninth inning because of him is no longer good enough.

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