During the off-season, Phillies GM Matt Klentak dealt away closer Ken Giles in exchange for a large haul of prospects that included current starting pitcher Vincent Velasquez.
While some Phillies fans were initially disappointed in losing '100-Miles Giles', whom they saw as one of the few exciting, young drawing cards with the cub, those have been mitigated by the exciting success and promise of Velasquez.
However, the trading away of Giles left the team with a gaping hole at the closer spot. For a young team such as the Phillies, coming off the worst record in baseball in 2015, to work hard for a lead only to have the bullpen blow it late can be crippling to morale.
The Phils needed someone to step up and claim the role. To help the process along, Klentak brought in veteran David Hernandez, who entered spring training as the favorite for the 2016 Phillies closer spot.
However, Hernandez faltered in the spring and early season. Other candidates also faltered when given an opportunity at seizing the job in spring training and over the first week of the season.
And so, somewhat because he had always shown himself to be a reliable option when called upon in the 6th and 7th innings, right-hander Jeanmar Gomez was given a shot at closing.
When he stepped on to the mound at CitiField in New York against the Mets on April 9th to try to protect a 1-0 lead, Gomez had exactly one career Save , coming back in 2014 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
That early April evening, Gomez set the Mets down in order to record his first Save as a Phillies pitcher. It was just the beginning of what became an unexpected but sensational run.
Over the next five days, Gomez would save four more games. Running with his opportunity, he would register eight during the month of April to go along with a pair of extra-inning Wins on his record.
No closer is perfect, and Gomez would finally blow a Save opportunity on May 4th. But he did what the good ones do, putting it quickly behind him to register Saves in each of his next seven opportunities.
Gomez now has 26 Saves on the 2016 season. He has career-best 2.76 ERA and 1.117 WHIP marks in 45.2 innings over 43 games. He has allowed just 40 hits, and has a solid, if unspectacular, 29/11 K:BB ratio.
Gomez is not flashy. He does not come in and blow hitters away. Mostly he gets them to pound his cutter into the ground. If he doesn't end up getting you to flail away at some offering for a strikeout, he gets you beating a ball into the dirt for a ground out.
His success as a closer, but also the fact that he has always been a reliable reliever in general, is making Gomez an attractive trade chip for the Phillies and acquisition target for opponents as the deadline approaches.