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Phillies Closer Situation Takes a New Path, Benoit Named New Closer

According to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury, the Philadelphia Phillies have named Joaquin Benoit as their new closer for the time being. The move was announced before Monday night’s game against the New York Mets.

Former Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez has struggled mightily in his three appearances thus far in 2017, compiling a 15.00 ERA, one blown save, one win and one save. However, Gomez’s struggles have been going on for much longer than just the three appearances he has made this season.

After a brilliant start to the 2016 season in which he earned the closer role, things began to fall apart. In 31 games after the all-star break, Gomez went 0-3 with an 8.33 ERA and 13 saves in 17 opportunities. 2016 was a tale of two halves for Gomez, who was amongst the league leaders in saves through the first half of the season.

The man whom the Phillies are replacing Gomez with is a veteran right-handed pitcher, Joaquin Benoit. Benoit, in 17 career MLB seasons (including his stats from 2017 thus far), has a 3.78 ERA and a 57-43 record to go with 51 saves. In 2016, Benoit also had an up-and-down season playing for both the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. In 26 games for the Mariners, he went 1-1 with a 5.18 ERA in 24 and one-third innings. In 25 games with the Blue Jays, he went 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA in 23 and two-thirds innings.

The Phillies signed Benoit to a lucrative one-year, $7.5 million contract in the offseason and it seems that Benoit has continued his good pitching. In three appearances so far in 2017, Benoit has not allowed a run yet. As a result, general manager Pete Mackanin has rewarded Benoit with the closers job for now. There is one wrinkle in the plan for the Phillies.

Benoit, the 17-year veteran, has never really played the role of a closer outside of doing it briefly for the Detroit Tigers in 2013 and San Diego Padres in 2014. The Phillies are taking a small gamble in putting the veteran into a role that he has seldom been in before. Hopefully, Benoit takes to his new role with the Phillies and continues to pitch well.

If moving the veteran Benoit to closer doesn’t work out, the Phillies have another option in the works as well.

Hector Neris is a possible option for the closers role as well. After having a good season in 2016, posting 4-4 record with a 2.58 ERA in 79 games, Neris showed the Phillies that he can be the team’s closer for the future.

Neris has closer’s stuff, a working fastball to go with a dominant strikeout pitch, his deadly splitter. Also, Neris is only 27 and he has many years of solid production left in the tank.

One thing is for sure, and that is Jeanmar Gomez is no longer the Phillies closer. Outside of that, everything is up in the air.

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