The Philadelphia Phillies have removed Jeanmar Gomez as closer and will use right-hander Joaquin Benoit in the role moving forward.
The Philadelphia Phillies have played fairly well to start the 2017 season. They are hitting the ball well and keeping pace with the other teams in the National League East. So then you wonder, why have they lost four of their first seven games? It’s because of the lackluster performance of the bullpen.
Former closer Jeanmar Gomez gave up five earned runs in his first three innings this year, including two blown saves. Due to his struggles, Gomez has been demoted as the Phillies’ closer. On Monday, the Phillies named Joaquin Benoit as the team’s new closer, according to Philly.com.
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Benoit, 39, is in his first season with the Phillies. The team signed Benoit to a one-year, $7.5 million deal this offseason to add to their bullpen depth. He has impressed the team already. Over three innings on the mound, Benoit has not allowed in a run and has struck out four batters. He has given up one hit and one walk over those three innings as well.
Gomez pitched decently as the Phillies’ closer last season, but has had a short leash here in 2017. Over 68.2 innings last season he posted a 4.85 ERA, while converting 37 saves as the team’s primary closer. It appears that Gomez will move into more of a sixth or seventh inning role with the team now.
Hector Neris‘s role in the bullpen will not change. He will remain the team’s setup man, manning the eighth inning moving forward. Neris has been terrific in that role over the past two seasons. During the 2016 season, Neris posted a 2.58 ERA in 80.1 innings. It is assumed that if Benoit struggles just as Gomez did in the closer’s role, Neris will be the next pitcher tabbed as the team’s closer.
Benoit has been terrific over his 16-year MLB career. He has pitched for seven different teams over that span. He has posted a 3.78 ERA with a 57-43 record, with his best season coming in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2010, he posted a 1.34 ERA over 60.1 innings. The Phillies are hoping they get that kind of production out of Benoit.
The Phillies have the potential to have one of the best bullpens in the National League. Between Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit, Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris, the Phillies have all the tools they need to be elite late in games. They need to find a reliable option to close games for them moving forward, and it just might be Benoit.