|Former closer Neris returns to the Phillies bullpen mix
The Philadelphia Phillies made an interesting roster move on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their two-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park.
, who began the season as the Phillies closer, was recalled from the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Sent down was infielder J.P. Crawford
, recently activated from the disabled list.
Crawford clearly needs playing time after spending most of the last two months recovering from a broken left hand. The injury was suffered back in mid-June when he was hit by a pitch from Saint Louis Cardinals hurler Luke Weaver
At that point in the season, Crawford had been playing a lot of third base, with Maikel Franco
struggling badly. While Crawford was out, Franco heated up and has now apparently become entrenched at the hot corner.
While the Phillies could have demoted Scott Kingery
, they instead chose to keep the struggling infielder with the big club. Kingery can play second, third, and short. That versatility was certainly a factor in their decision.
Both Kingery and Crawford could likely benefit from two or three weeks of everyday playing time at the AAA level. Crawford needs it to regain his timing after being off for two months. Kingery needs it to regain his confidence and stroke after looking over-matched for much of his rookie season.
Rosters will expand in a little more than two weeks. It is a near certainty that Crawford will be among the first group of players brought to Philadelphia to help the team during the stretch run of September baseball.
Neris was horrendous during the first three months of the 2018 season with the Phillies, surrendering 11 home runs among the 35 hits that he yielded over 30 innings.
However, with the IronPigs, Neris got back to dominating. In 19 games he allowed just nine hits over 18.2. innings with a 31/7 K:BB ratio. More importantly perhaps, he allowed no long balls.
“…more consistent command of the fastball…the splitter has been consistent in and in-and-out of the zone,
” said IronPigs pitching coach David Lundquist
per Philly.com’s Ben Pope
. “His timing and his delivery is really good right now, and he’s been getting more swing-and-miss.
The Phillies are hoping that the 29-year-old right-hander has gotten his confidence back and his pitching repertoire squared away. If so, Neris has the talent to provide a dynamic presence to the back-end of the Phillies bullpen over the final seven weeks.