In the immortal words of Sweedish pop sensation ABBA, “Here we go again.” The Philadelphia Phillies are firmly in the thick of a race to the playoffs, and hopefully this time they can get there. As the 2021 season heads into its final stretch, the Phillies are still alive and fighting for their first playoff berth in a decade.
There are multiple ways the Phillies can make the playoffs. However, regardless of how they try to sneak in, if they want to capitalize on this then they are going to need great performances from a host of different players.
Here are three Phillies crucial to this stretch run:
Phillies pitcher Héctor Neris
The longest-tenured and most underappreciated Philadelphia Phillie also might be their most important as they gear up to make a push for the postseason. It’s no secret that the weakest part of the Phillies roster is their MLB-blown-save-leading bullpen, and if the Phillies have any hopes of making noise in the postseason they need Héctor Neris to show up big time.
Neris struggled mightily as a closer this season blowing seven of his 19 save opportunities. He was eventually demoted from the closer role, and the Phillies brought Ian Kennedy over from the Texas Rangers as part of the Kyle Gibson trade to handle the ninth inning.
Since lasting just 2/3 innings en route to a six-run implosion against the San Diego Padres on July 4, Neris has been fantastic for the Phillies. In his 34 appearances since that game, Neris has pitched to the tune of a 2.04 ERA and opponents have hit just .161 against him. He’s also lowered his season ERA from 5.17 to 3.51.
Since being removed from the closer role, Neris has pitched really well. It’s essential that manager Joe Girardi has someone he can reliably turn to, in an otherwise unreliable bullpen. Neris has shown that he can be that guy. Now the Phillies need him to be.