Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but these stats aren’t pretty.
As of the weekend series against the Mets, the Phillies now lead MLB in blown saves. Saturday was their 19th, to give them that unfortunate distinction.
On an individual level, closer Hector Neris has also fallen apart. He now has six blown saves on the season, tied with Rafael Montero for the most in baseball. And it gets worse; according to David Esser, Neris’ 64.7 save percentage is third-worst among qualified relievers.
Neris’ season was actually proceeding pretty well, and his overall numbers mask a steep decline over the month of June; he has a 3.34 ERA over 32 appearances this season.
But let’s break that down by month:
- April: 13 games, 11 2/3 IP, 14 K, 1.54 ERA
- May: 11 games, 11 1/3 IP, 13 K, 2.38 ERA
- June: 8 games, 6 2/3 IP, 9 K, 8.10 ERA
That’s not a typo; Neris’ ERA has nearly quadrupled since May, and four of his six blown saves have been in June. In 2020, Neris had three blown saves, total. In 2019, he had six blown saves over 68 appearances, compared to six blown saves over 32 this season. In fact, he’s never had more than six blown saves in any season in his career.
Neris’ poor performance in late and close games has absolutely factored into the fact that the Phillies are 14-13 in one-run games, and 8-8 in blowouts (classified by Baseball-Reference as 5+ runs scored).
Of course, Neris is far from the only problem the Phillies have. They haven’t been in first place since May 8 and dropped to fourth in the division after Monday’s loss. Even with strong performances by Neris earlier this season, they went 12-16 in May after going 13-13 in April.
Can the Phillies turn this season around?
At this point in the season, it’s unlikely that the Phillies could magically right the ship. There are too many injuries, but more than that, there are too many underperforming pieces that they’re stuck with. This feels more like a big offseason reset than a trade deadline upgrade. After all, no contender wants to trade for a pitcher with a 5+ ERA; that’s pretty counterintuitive.
Neris figuring out his new struggles would be a difference-maker, but it’s doubtful it would be enough.