*** Phillies crush Toronto Blue Jays by 13-6 on Thursday in Clearwater *** Bryce Harper blasts first two home runs in a Phillies uniform *** Record now at 12-12 in Grapefruit League action down in Florida *** Just four dates remain on the spring training schedule *** Visit PHILLIESNATION.com for more Spring Training updates on the Philadelphia Phillies ***

Thursday, March 21, 2019

First two home runs from Bryce Harper lead Phillies to spring romp

Embed from Getty Images
Bryce Harper homers twice in Grapefruit League victory

It has happened 184 times over his first seven regular seasons in Major League Baseball and another five times in the postseason. There were even a few launched during spring training. But all of those happened in another uniform.
This afternoon for the first time as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper enjoyed the feeling of blasting a home run. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that he decided to do it again, crushing a sixth-inning blast as well.
The first came during his first plate appearance of the afternoon at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida with one out and Andrew McCutchen at first base.
As Harper walked to the plate in the bottom of the 1st inning, Phillies announcer Ben Davis told his broadcasting partner Gregg Murphy that “he is a tick away” and noted that Harper had “a few really, really good swings yesterday” in one of the more prescient calls of the former catcher’s career as a color analyst.
Harper wasted little time. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Sam Gaviglio tried to groove an 88 mph fastball for strike one, and the Phillies right fielder unloaded, ripping the ball out and over the right field wall.
The home crowd roared and rose to their feet as the ball sailed out. They remained on their feet as Harper rounded the bases for the first time as a member of the ball club that he will call his baseball home for the rest of his career.
After celebrating with a high-five at home plate with McCutchen, Harper trotted back to the home dugout and acknowledged the roaring fans behind home plate with a wave.
Harper’s blast touched off a massive Phillies power display on the day which would result in a 13-6 victory. In addition to Harper’s pair, other Phillies long balls on the day came off the bats of McCutchen, Gift Ngoepe, and one from each of the club’s two catchers, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew Knapp.

Chase Utley to join the broadcasting ranks during first season in retirement

Embed from Getty Images
Officially retired as a player, Utley will remain involved in the game

The ball player who grew to be known around Phillies Nation as ‘The Man’ appeared in his final big-league game on September 30, 2018. Stepping to the plate as a pinch-hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Utley struck out in his final plate appearance after 16 seasons in Major League Baseball.
Over parts of 13 years with the Phillies, Utley had become a heroic fan favorite. He banged out 233 home runs, drove in 916 runs, and crossed the plate with a run scored 949 times. He was a six-time National League All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and finished among the top 15 in NL MVP voting for five straight years.
Nearly seven years after helping the Phillies to win the 2008 World Series, Utley was traded out to his native California to play for the Dodgers. He would finish up his playing career in Los Angeles, getting back to the playoffs in four straight seasons but never winning another championship ring.
The Phillies announced months ago that Utley would join former teammates Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard in being officially honored by the team for which they played their greatest baseball.
At what is now a sold-out June 21st game against the division-rival Miami Marlins the Phillies will hold “Chase Utley Retirement Night” with a number of special events. Those will include a pre-game highlight package and a bobble figurine giveaway as Utley officially retires from baseball as a member of the Phillies organization.
However, just when it seemed as if he might ride off into the sunset, it turns out that Utley will not be away from the game after all during the coming season.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Join Phillies Nation in fan polling for Wall of Fame 'March Madness'

Embed from Getty Images
Manuel, Thome, Carlton (L-R) are part of March Madness

The calendar showing that it is the third week in March can mean only one thing. Okay, two. Alright, alright, at least three things. The first thing is that Spring has arrived! It was a long, cold winter. But now it’s finally over. Soon flowers will begin to bloom and grass will start to grow again.
The other two big things about this time of year involve the sports world. For baseball fans, spring training is winding to a close. The Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues have just days remaining in their schedules.
For fans of college basketball and many sports fans who barely follow the game at any other time of year this is “March Madness” time. The excitement and drama of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament is unfolding.
Here at Phillies Nation we decided to run our own “March Madness” involving our favorite ball club. As subject matter we chose the Wall of Famers, those 40 individuals who have been honored to this point with a plaque at Citizens Bank Park.

Our tournament is being run at our Twitter feed: @PhilliesNation. If you aren’t following, fix that right away. If you are, head on over and be sure to follow regularly over the next week as we poll followers for their selections.
Phillies Nation “March Madness” began with a Play-in showdown between 1960’s-70’s infielder and later a coach with the team, Tony Taylor, facing off against 1950’s ‘Whiz Kids’ shortstop Granny Hamner. The popular Taylor took an early lead in voting and coasted to victory by 61%-39% of the 157 followers who cast a vote.

Phillies add Rhys Hoskins to spring injuries list

Embed from Getty Images
Rhys Hoskins and Roman Quinn both battling spring injuries

The Philadelphia Phillies are scheduled to begin a highly-anticipated 2019 regular season one week from tomorrow. Including the Wednesday afternoon game in Clearwater against the Detroit Tigers there are just six game dates remaining on the Grapefruit League schedule. Two of those will be split-squad affairs.
Opportunities for the players to experience game conditions prior to Opening Day are dwindling quickly. With that in mind there are a number of Phillies players still battling injury issues which will hinder their ability to participate.
Scott Lauber of Philly.com noted this morning that first baseman Rhys Hoskins is suffering from a sore shoulder. He is being held out of game action at least through Friday, but at this point it is believed that he will be in the lineup against the Atlanta Braves on March 28 at Citizens Bank Park. He still hopes to be able to play in a couple of spring training games before then.
Lauber further noted that the Phillies would move starting third baseman Maikel Franco over to first base on Friday, and that Franco would cover the position if a longer term need were to arise. The Phillies would play Scott Kingery at the hot corner in such a scenario.
Jerad Eickhoff has returned to the mound following off-season carpal tunnel surgery. He should start at Triple-A. (D. Benjamin Miller/WikiCommons)
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported on Tuesday that both Roman Quinn and Tommy Hunter would likely open the season on the Injured List. Quinn suffered an oblique strain back in late February and has appeared in just one game down in Florida. Hunter was shut down at around the same time with a strain in the flexor muscle of his right pitching arm.
Also on the mound, Jerad Eickhoff underwent carpal tunnel syndrome surgery back in October. The right-hander had experienced some recurring symptoms in January which slowed his entry to spring games.

Eickhoff has now made two starts and is on track to open the season as part of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley starting rotation. As long as he remains healthy, he would likely be the first pitcher to be re-called should a need arise in the Phillies rotation.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In wake of Mike Trout contract, Phillies fans need to move on and support their team

Embed from Getty Images
Phillies fans are disappointed to not get a chance at Mike Trout

In one of my all-time favorite movies, 1988’s classic high school basketball film “Hoosiers”, there is a memorable speech delivered by Gene Hackman as coach Norman Dale.
He is a controversial new coach at the school and his star player has decided not to play that year in order to focus on class work. As the coach stands at center court to introduce his 1952 team, the crowd begins to chant for their star player.
Coach Dale’s response to the crowd is one that should be drilled into the minds and hearts of every team fan base at every level in every year:
“I would hope you would support who we are, and not who we are not.”
These six individuals have made a choice to work, a choice to sacrifice, and put themselves on the line 23 nights for the next four months to represent you, this high school. That kind of commitment and effort deserves and demands your respect. This is your team.
There has been much excitement and speculation surrounding the potential for the Philadelphia Phillies to sign local product Mike Trout when he was due to become a free agent following the 2020 season.
Phillies fans have wanted it to happen for years, and recent free agent signee Bryce Harper only fueled the fires after he signed with the club earlier this month.
I’m making $26 (million) a year, something like that, so I think that’s gonna be able to bring some other guys in as well that will help this organization win. I know there’s another guy (Trout) in about two years who comes up off the books. We’ll see what happens with him.”
That excitement was warranted. Trout is the best player in the game today. The argument is beginning to be made that he is one of the greatest players in the history of the game. You would have a hard time winning if you chose to argue against that point.
Trout is also a native of Millville, New Jersey. The town is just 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia. Trout grew up as a Philly sports fan. He tailgated at the 2008 World Series, has frequently attended 76ers games, and is a long-time Eagles season ticket holder.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Phillies improved but still missing a strong lefty arm in bullpen

Embed from Getty Images
Paredes signed as a free agent and has pitched well this spring

The best Phillies teams of the last half-century, a period of time in which bullpen usage has become more and more critical in Major League Baseball, have featured strong left-handers helping the team get through the late innings and close out tight ball games.
Most famous of all was the late screwballer and Phillies Wall of Famer Tug McGraw. The popular Tugger blew a fastball past Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals to close out the 1980 World Series.
That 1980 team also got 40 appearances from Kevin Saucier and dealt for veteran southpaw Sparky Lyle, who was a tremendous help during the push to the NL East crown in September.

Three years later, the ‘Wheeze Kids’ reached the World Series with a trio of lefties in McGraw, Al Holland and May trade acquisition Willie Hernandez.
In 1993, a surprising Phillies club captured another National League pennant with lefty Mitch Williams as their closer. That club also featured left-hander David West coming out of the bullpen to appear in a staff-high 76 games.
The Phillies emerged in the early 21st century from years of losing, beginning a run of more than a decade as a postseason contender. Lefty Rheal Cormier was a key member of the bullpen during the entirety of the first-half of that decade. Veteran Dan Plesac joined him to close out the Veteran’s Stadium years in 2002-03.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Phillies have used 11 center fielders in this Graperfuit League season

Embed from Getty Images
Adam Haseley has seen center field action this spring

The announced starting lineup for the Philadelphia Phillies for the Saturday afternoon March 16 game at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida against the visiting Houston Astros included 24-year-old Dylan Cozens in center field.
The start for Cozens is his second of spring training in center field, the last coming back on March 6 in Dunedin against the host Toronto Blue Jays.
For these tune-up games down in Florida the Phillies have utilized 11 different players at the crucial center field position. None of them has been named Odubel Herrera. The starter at the position for the last four years has been sidelined by injury. He will make his first start today, serving as the Designated Hitter.
Herrera had entered the spring in a head-to-head competition for the starting center field job with 25-year-old Roman Quinn. However, the speedy Quinn suffered yet another in a series of injuries which have repeatedly set his career back. He got to make just one start, in the Grapefruit League opener against the Tampa Bay Rays.
With both Herrera and Quinn out of commission the Phillies have leaned heavily on three players. Aaron Altherr has received nine starts in center and is the only player to start out there on back-to-back days, having done so on both February 27th and 28th.
The other two players who have seen stead action in center field are a pair of prospects. 22-year-old Adam Haseley has made four starts and come on as a substitute in three others. 20-year-old Mickey Moniak made one start and came on as a sub a half-dozen times.
Haseley is one of just two who have played a full game in center field all spring. He did so for the split-squad game on the road against the Detroit Tigers on March 7.
The other player to go a full game in center was Lane Adams. The 29-year-old who has three years of big-league experience is here as a non-roster invitee. He also played a full split-squad road game, that one on March 14 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That was Adams lone start. He has also appeared in three more games out in center as a substitute.

Ankle injury to Bryce Harper appears minor; x-rays come back negative

Harper was drilled in ankle during Friday's game
Fans all across Phillies Nation are breathing a massive sigh of relief this morning. Per numerous reports, all x-rays on Bryce Harper’s right ankle have come back negative.
The 26-year-old superstar is officially being listed as day-to-day. However, Harper will miss Saturday’s game in Clearwater against the Houston Astros. His scheduled participation in Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees also has to be considered questionable at this point.
Harper was injured when he was drilled by a 96 mph fastball from Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton with two outs in the bottom of the 6th inning at Spectrum Field in Clearwater.

Harper would ideally like to get between 40-50 plate appearances during Grapefruit League action in order to be fully ready to open the regular season. However, that is going to now become nearly impossible.
To date, Harper has accumulated just nine plate appearances over parts of four games. Still looking for his first hit in a Phillies uniform, he is 0-5 with three walks and the hit-by-pitch, two runs scored, and a stolen base to this point.
Originally scheduled to play in all three games this weekend, there is now the very real chance that Friday will be the only one in which he participates.
The Phillies are scheduled to cross the state of Florida for a pair of games on Monday and Tuesday against the Cardinals and Astros. That was a trip that Harper was not likely to make prior to this incident. He is still unlikely to travel with the team for those games.
Bottom line, we may not see Harper play again until Wednesday afternoon back in Clearwater against the Detroit Tigers. If that proves true it would mean he will see no more than six more games. Even if he is able to play in all of those and averages three plate appearances in each, he would end spring training with roughly 30 plate appearances in game action.

Friday, March 15, 2019

ESPN names Bryce Harper as the most famous ballplayer on the planet

Embed from Getty Images
Harper likely to fall further behind after already late spring start

Sports Illustrated has released its annual “World Fame 100” ranking of the most famous athletes on the planet. Only one baseball player made the 2019 list – new Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper.
There had been no baseball players to make the list in either of the last two years. Harper undoubtedly received a big push from his hotly contested pursuit in free agency this past off-season.
The folks at ESPN explain their process in this manner: “To identify the 100 most famous athletes in the world, we started with 800 of the biggest names in sports, drawn from 78 countries. We then ranked them based on a formula that took into account three fame factors.
Those three fame factors are made up of the individual’s internet “search score“, the annual value of their current endorsement deals, and the size of their social media following.
The search score measures just how often the name was searched on Google by taking “the weighted average of an athlete’s Google Trends peak score (how much he spiked on his most searched day) and his average score (how much he was searched throughout 2018, on average.)

ESPN uses a variety of resources including contributors to such sites as Forbes in order to approximate the endorsement values. The social media figure is taken from the individual’s number of followers on their most popular account platform.
Harper received a search score of 3, was listed as having a $13 million endorsement figure, and had 1.4 million followers (Instagram) on his largest social media account.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Flyin' Hawaiian returns to the Philadelphia Phillies

Embed from Getty Images
Shane Victorino will help out the Phillies at 2019 spring training

Six and a half years have passed since the last time ‘The Flyin’ Hawaiian’ pulled on the uniform of the Philadelphia Phillies on July 29, 2012 at Turner Field in Atlanta.
The aging Phillies dropped a 6-2 decision to their NL East Division rivals that afternoon. The defeat left them 12.5 games behind the second-place Braves and 16.5 off the pace being set by the first-place Washington Nationals.
The late Roy Halladay had taken the mound for the start that day. He would strikeout seven and walk just one over six innings and leave with the Phillies trailing by just 3-2 before the bullpen surrendered three in the 7th inning to break the game open.
The first five batters in the Phillies lineup that day were familiar to fans: Jimmy Rollins, Victorino, Chase UtleyRyan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. But all were between 31-33 years of age, beginning to push past their glorious prime years together.
Two days later, Victorino was one of the first to go in what would become a major rebuilding program that would last for more than a half-decade. He was dealt on July 31 to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitchers Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin, as well as a player-to-be-named who turned out to be in infield prospect named Stefan Jarrin.
On that same day, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr dealt away another starting outfielder, Hunter Pence, signalling a surrender of his team for the season. The club would actually heat up, pulling within three games of the second NL Wildcard with 11 to play. But that was as close as they would get.

Victorino became the left fielder for the Dodgers, stealing 15 bases over the final third of the season for a club that finished in second place in the NL West, two games off that final Wildcard pace and just five ahead of the 81-81 Phillies.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Phillies expect both Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez back from injury

Embed from Getty Images
Herrera has missed all of 2019 Grapefruit League action to date

For most of the first three weeks of spring training the Philadelphia Phillies have been missing two players who have been starters for the last few rebuilding years. Both players were projected to be in the Opening Day starting lineup once again this season.
It now appears as if both second baseman Cesar Hernandez and center fielder Odubel Herrera will return over the next few days. The club expects that, assuming they are able to stay healthy from here on out, both players will be ready for the first regular season game of the 2019 season on March 28th at Citizens Bank Park.
Hernandez suffered a Grade 1 right hip flexor strain while running the bases on February 27 in a Grapefruit League game against the Minnesota Twins at Clearwater.
Exactly one week earlier, Herrera suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain while going from first to third during a baserunning drill. The setback was particularly frustrating for the 27-year-old. Herrera had arrived in Florida weeks earlier than required in anticipation of a battle with Roman Quinn for the starting center field job.
The position was thrown into even more chaos when Quinn suffered a strained oblique on the same day that Hernandez went down. Quinn’s return will take a bit longer, the Phillies are reportedly going to take it slow with him.
That puts the likelihood of Quinn heading north to Philly at the end of March in serious jeopardy. It also virtually assures that, if healthy, Herrera will be the everyday starter in center field, at least to begin the season.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Lance Parrish and Gregg Jefferies: big-name free agents who didn't work out for Phillies

Embed from Getty Images
Lance Parrish had been one of baseball's top catchers

Excitement surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies has skyrocketed over the nearly two weeks since the announcement that Bryce Harper had agreed to a contract with the team.
Harper was the biggest piece to an off-season puzzle put together by principal owner John Middleton and general manager Matt Klentak, turning the Phillies from an interesting young team into an immediate title contender.
The club also signed a former National League Most Valuable Player, Andrew McCutchen and one of the top relievers in baseball over the last decade, David Robertson, in free agency. However, it was the signing of Harper which lit up the phone lines in the ticket sales office and actually drove fans to the Phillies website to grab seats for 2019 ball games.
Harper is one of the top players in the game today. He becomes the latest in a series of high-profile free agent stars from Pete Rose in 1978 to Jim Thome in 2002 to Cliff Lee in 2010 to choose Philadelphia as their new home. He is by far the youngest and is expected to impact the organization for a far longer time period than any free agent addition in franchise history.
Signing a big-name All-Star in free agency has not always worked out for the Phillies, however. The two biggest during the decades of the 1980’s and the 1990’s each ended up a major let-down. Neither of those players would produce to the standards they had set in their respective careers prior to their arrival in Philadelphia. Neither would help the team to achieve success. Here is a look back at those two disappointing free agent signings.

Lance Parrish was a slugging catcher who appeared to be just what the late-80’s Phillies needed to return to contention. (KG Graphics/WikiCommons)
The Phillies of the mid-late 1980’s began to fall on some hard times as management tried one of the toughest tricks in baseball, rebuilding while continuing to win. It wasn’t working out real well. The 1984 Phillies slipped to the .500 mark at 81-81, and the following year suffered the first losing season for the team in a decade.
In 1986, the Phillies bounced back to finish 86-75. It was the third-best record in the National League, but still only good enough for second place, 22 games behind a mega-talented New York Mets club that would go on to win the World Series.
Still, the Phillies felt that they were back. Schmidt had won his third NL MVP and was still going strong at age 36. Juan SamuelVon Hayes and Glenn Wilson were providing solid support.

Monday, March 11, 2019

First round of a dozen spring cuts leaves Phillies with 49 players in big-league camp

Embed from Getty Images
Enyel De Los Santos was among first dozen Phillies reassignments

The Philadelphia Phillies dropped an 8-2 decision on Monday to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. With that game in the books the club has now officially passed the halfway point of its Grapefruit League schedule.
The Phillies record under the Florida sun sits at 9-7 following the defeat. They now have 14 games remaining on their schedule prior to heading back north for the March 28 regular season opener against the division-rival Atlanta Braves.
Following their game on Saturday, March 9, a first round of seven players were reassigned. After today’s game another round of five reassignments was announced. These dozen roster moves are part of the effort to cut down to the 25 players who will be in the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day.
Both 22-year-old pitcher Adonis Medina, who is the Phillies #2 prospect now per MLB Pipeline, and 21-year-old shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa, considered their#13 prospect, were optioned to Double-A Reading on Saturday.

Today the Phillies optioned pitchers Enyel De Los SantosAustin Davis and Edgar Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. De Los Santos is the team’s #6 prospect and made his Major League Baseball debut last season, appearing in seven games and making two starts on the mound. Davis saw action in 32 games with the Phillies last season as a situational left-hander.
Reassigned to the minor league camp over the two days were pitchers Cole IrvinJoJo Romero and Tyler Gilbert, catcher Deivy Grullon, first baseman Austin Listi, infielder Malquin Canelo and outfielder Mickey Moniak. Romero is the Phillies #7 prospect, Moniak #9 and Irvin #16 per MLB Pipeline.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Bryce Harper walks twice in first game action with Phillies

Harper walked twice in his first game action
Today is one that fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have been looking forward to for the last nine days. On February 28 the announcement spread like wildfire across the baseball landscape when free agent Bryce Harper agreed to a deal with the club. Since that time the fans have enjoyed a series of firsts.
One week ago today on top of the home dugout at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida they got to see their new hero don the red Phillies cap and pinstriped jersey for the first time. They got to listen as the 26-year-old superstar said all the right things in looking forward to spending the next 13 years trying to bring them championships.
The following day they got to see him stride out from the home locker room and enjoy a practice under that warm Florida sun with his new teammates for the first time. Stretching, running sprints, taking batting practice
As this past week rolled along the new right fielder began to face live pitching, first from minor leaguers and then from some of the big-league staff, including Jerad Eickhoff.
Harper has looked good thus far. He is obviously in great physical shape. But now it is time for him to truly begin getting into baseball shape. That will require him seeing pitches from opposing hurlers who are trying to get him out. That process began on Saturday afternoon.

Appearing in a Phillies uniform during an actual game for the first time, Harper was inserted by manager Gabe Kapler into the #3 spot in the starting lineup in front of the home fans for the Grapefruit League game at Clearwater on Saturday, March 9 against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Fantasy Baseball 2019: Ranking the current Phillies players for your team

Embed from Getty Images
Phillies ace Aaron Nola should be taken high in fantasy drafts

We’re now pushing further into the month of March and that means just one thing. What? March Madness? Okay, okay…two things. At least for fans of fantasy sports and baseball, this is draft month.
While in most seasons those fantasy baseball drafts take place around the third or fourth week in the month, this year could be a little different. If your league counts the two Japan Opening Series games between the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners on March 20-21, then your draft could be as soon as mid-month.
There are many more resources available these days to fantasy sports fans than when I first began playing fantasy baseball and football in the late 1980’s. What used to be largely opinion and educated guess-work presented in magazines – which you can still buy today – has grown into real-time, detailed information available on the internet.
It has become more and more difficult to separate yourself from the other competitors in your league in the area of information-gathering. At least those who are willing to put in the work.
One potential source of unique information comes from resources within each individual city or fan base. It is very possible that the people who are following a particular team on a regular basis have better information and insight than folks who are trying to follow 25-30 teams in a particular sport, sometimes dozens of teams across multiple sports.
That is where I am coming from with this piece. As someone who follows and reports on the Philadelphia Phillies on a regular basis, I’m going to help out my fellow fantasy baseball fans.
The following is a ranking of every current 2019 Phillies player who might be able to help your fantasy team in the coming season. I am also including a very brief reasoning behind each ranking. There won’t be any “which round” you should take most of the players, because there are so many different draft formats that nothing is truly “standard” these days.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Strong 2018 finish has Hector Neris stock up entering Phillies 2019 campaign

Embed from Getty Images
Neris was back to his shutdown self in 2018's second half

Growing up in Villa Altagracia in the San Cristobal province of the Dominican Republic, Hector Neris was a gifted athlete who enjoyed utilizing both his physical and mental gifts.
While enjoying the physical competition on the baseball diamond and on both volleyball and basketball courts, Neris also enjoyed testing and stretching his mind as an avid chess player.
On April 29, 2010 the Phillies signed Neris as a 20-year-old international free agent. Over the next three years the right-hander would prove that he was durable and that the had the ability to overpower minor league hitters.
From 2010-14 as he worked his way up progressively through each stop in the system, Neris struck out 363 opposition batters across 353.2 innings over 191 games.
Beginning with a one-game audition in August 2014, Neris has appeared with the big-league Phillies in each of the last five seasons. His performances in 2016-17 appeared to cement him as the club’s long-term closer. Over those two years, Neris allowed just 127 hits across 155 innings over 153 games while compiling a cumulative 188/56 K:BB ratio. He also served in a key role out of the Dominican Republic bullpen during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
But then from the very outset of the 2018 season, Neris saw very different results. It all began in the season opener in Atlanta. After retiring two of the first three batters, and following an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman, Neris surrendered a three-run, walk-off home run to Nick Markakis.
Neris was strong over his next three outings, striking out four and walking none over three shutout innings while recording his first Save of the season. However, in his fifth outing with the Phillies leading the Cincinnati Reds by 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park he surrendered three straight hits to start the top of the 9th to tie the game. The Phillies would win in 12 innings, but Neris had blown a Save opportunity.
Over the next few weeks, Neris would have few clean innings, and appeared to genuinely be losing confidence on the mound. By the end of June he had surrendered 35 hits over 30 innings, including an incredible 11 home runs. He had an unsightly .292 batting average against, and hitters had a huge .981 OPS against him.
Neris still had good stuff, as revealed by his 41/11 K/BB ratio. But he was simply making too many bad pitches. The Phillies had seen enough and sent him back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to try and regain his confidence.