Tag Archives: Victor Arano

Phillies search for a closer is over as Hector Neris seizes the role

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Hector Neris has seized the Phillies bullpen closer role

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler began the 2019 season without a named closer at the back-end of his pitching staff. There were a number of options who appeared to be reasonably attractive. The skipper chose to simply use whichever option appeared best at an important moment over the late innings based on specific match-ups.

What began as a group of a half-dozen arms who Kapler hoped would fill those end-game roles has gradually shrunk to dangerously low levels.
David Robertson started slowly, producing a 5.40 ERA and 2.100 WHIP over seven games. The veteran free agent signee allowed eight hits over his first 6.2 innings with a 6/6 K:BB ratio before going down with a flexor strain in mid-April. It had been assumed by many that he would ultimately see the bulk of any “closer” opportunities.
Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano have also wound up on the Injured List. Youngsters Seranthony Dominguez and Edgar Garcia, the former who many believe has the pure stuff to one day serve as a closer, have been inconsistent at best. Pat Neshek has mostly succeeded despite not having dominant stuff and getting hit hard at times.
But one arm has emerged to save the day. That would be the big right arm of 29-year-old Hector Neris.
Neris had been the Phillies closer entering the 2018 season. But he began the year blowing a series of games, and by the end of June his ERA had skyrocketed to the 6.90 mark. Mercifully, he was demoted to Triple-A in order to rediscover his mojo.
Over 19 games with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Neris regained his confidence. He dominated minor league hitters, allowing just nine hits over 18.2 innings, striking out 31 batters while walking just seven in that time.
In mid-August, the righty was called back to Philadelphia. He immediately carried over that minor league success to the big-leagues, becoming the National League’s Reliever of the Month even though he didn’t appear in a single game with the Phillies until the 15th of the month.
From his August 15 return until the end of the season, Neris allowed just 11 hits over 17.2 innings with a dominating 35/5 K:BB ratio. He recorded a 2.04 ERA and .172 batting average against over that time while registering one Save and four Holds.
Neris has continued that dominance into the 2019 season. He has allowed just a dozen hits over 20.1 innings with a 27/6 K:BB ratio and has seized that closer role, earning seven Saves. Most importantly, Neris has suffered just one loss. Otherwise, he has blown no opportunities to close out a ball game over 20 appearances, 11 of those as chances to finish things off.
After Neris closed out a win this past Saturday night over the Colorado Rockies, Kapler was quoted by Matt Breen at Philly.com:

“When we see the splitter biting from the dugout – and when I say ‘biting,’ it doesn’t tumble and roll, but it takes a sharp downward action and guys are fouling the ball straight into the dirt or they’re swinging and missing – we know we have it…When we see that from the dugout, we know we have a dominant force.”

Last night at Wrigley Field, Neris came on for the bottom of the 9th inning after the Phillies had tied things up in the top of the frame. He shut the host Chicago Cubs down, striking out Victor Caratini to end the frame and send the game into extra innings.
The Phillies would take the lead on a J.T. Realmuto homer in the top of the 10th, Adam Morgan and Juan Nicasio would combine to shut the Cubs down in the bottom of the inning to end it, and Neris would be credited with the win.
Put it all together and Neris has allowed only 23 hits, just two home runs, over 38 innings across 40 games since his recall last August. It’s not just plain-old success, he has dominated opposing hitters with a 62/11 K:BB ratio. Neris has shown himself to be born again hard. He is as automatic as any closer in the game today. It’s time that we begin to expect it.

Phillies add Jean Segura and Scott Kingery to growing Injured List

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Shortstop Jean Segura joined the Phillies growing Injury List

A gut-wrenching walkoff defeat on the scoreboard at the hands of the host Colorado Rockies was not the only loss suffered by the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.

The club also lost three players to the Injured List: shortstop Jean Segura, his backup in red-hot utility player Scott Kingery, and reliever Victor Arano.
Segura actually strained his left hamstring during Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets. His stint on the IL was made retroactive to Wednesday, and so he will be eligible to come off next weekend.
Kingery injured his right hamstring while running to first on a ground out in the fourth inning during Friday night’s defeat. He was starting for the third straight game at short in place of Segura.
Arano was called up from Triple-A just over a week ago. Per Matt Gelb, the right-hander was warming up to enter Friday night’s game in the 12th inning when he began to have trouble in his right pitching elbow.
Phil Gosselin will be the Phillies’ shortstop for the next week. He’s the only shortstop on the roster. Segura didn’t suffer a setback, but with Kingery down, they decided to be ultra cautious.

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Gelb further reported that manager Gabe Kapler has stated that, in the event of an emergency involving Gosselin, any from among Cesar HernandezRoman Quinn or Maikel Franco could play shortstop.
This will have to be the arrangement for at least the final two games of this current series against the Colorado Rockies, next week’s big early-season three-game match-up with the division rival New York Mets at Citi Field, and for the first couple games of next weekend’s four-game set with the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
Phil Gosselin is in his seventh big-league season, but his first with the Phillies organization. He is local product, born and raised in Bryn Mawr. He attended Malvern Prep High School before moving on to play college ball at the University of Virginia.
The 30-year-old Gosselin has a .265/.316/.362 slash line in Major League Baseball and has appeared with the Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and now the Phillies. He went 2-4 and scored the run in the top of the 12th last night that temporarily put the Phillies on top.
Gosselin has appeared in a dozen games at shortstop during his career in Major League Baseball. His last action there prior to last night was over three games with Texas in the 2017 season. He also played 17 games with Triple-A Indianapolis at the position that same season. He has mostly played second base over the last two years.
To take the place of the three injured players in Denver the club promoted right-handed pitcher Drew Anderson, lefty reliever Austin Davis, and infielder Mitch Walding from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Anderson was impressive back in spring training with the Phillies and already has made one appearance with the big club this season. He went two innings, striking out two and walking two while allowing no runs or hits, during this past Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Mets.
Davis had pitched poorly over five Grapefruit League games, clinching his start of the season in the minors. The southpaw has pitched well for the IronPigs, allowing seven hits and no runs over 10 innings across six games with a 12/2 K:BB ratio.
The 26-year-old Walding appeared in 13 games with the Phillies last season, including playing seven games at third base. He has appeared on both infield corners during an eight-season minor league career.
Anderson and Davis will bring fresh arms with some big-league experience to the bullpen. Walding will be an extra bat off the bench.

The Phillies have really been slammed by the injury hammer this week. They put reliever David Robertson on the IL with a barking right elbow early in the week. 
Then they lost center fielder Odubel Herrera to a hamstring during Wednesday’s game. He is eligible to return next Sunday, and is expected back at that time.

Phillies lose reliever Tommy Hunter as first pitching injury of 2019

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Hunter becomes the first arm to go down in spring training

When objectively evaluating the Philadelphia Phillies 2019 roster for potential strengths and weaknesses, the bullpen would have to be listed on the “strengths” side of the ledger.

The addition of a few talented veterans this off-season to a solid returning group and some growing young arms has the pen looking stronger and deeper than it has in years.
Now less than two weeks into 2019 spring training that bullpen depth will begin to be tested. It’s first member has gone down due to injury. Tommy Hunter will be shut down for in indeterminate amount of time with a Grade 1 strain of the flexor muscle in his right pitching arm.
The flexor mass is a collection of muscles and tendons which come together in the forearm near the elbow. They function by allowing you to turn and flex your wrist. The injury as it affects a pitcher such as Hunter is described as follows by Robert G. Najarian, MD with Inova:
With flexor mass strains, pitchers usually don’t feel pain until the follow-through phase of the pitch. That’s when you need the flexor mass to snap the wrist to get the ball in the strike zone. When the flexor mass is injured, the ball often ends high and pitchers can have problems locating their pitch.
In general, Najarian states, the injury is treated with rest, anti-inflammatories, and a strength/rehabilitation program. Some players are out for just two weeks. For others the recovery can take as long as six to eight weeks. It all depends upon the severity of the injury and the individual player’s ability to recuperate.
The hope is that the Phillies and Hunter caught the injury early enough that this method of recovery will do the job. If such an injury is allowed to go untreated for too long, it could result in ligament damage and possibly the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
Hunter was signed by the Phillies as a free agent in December 2017 to a two-year, $18 million contract. The 32-year-old, 11-year veteran will not throw for two weeks and then will be re-evaluated.

The Phillies bullpen ranked around the middle of baseball last season. The club’s relievers as a group ranked 18th in ERA and BAA, 10th in K/9, and 11th in saves and K/BB among the 30 teams of Major League Baseball.
Hunter was likely going to be called upon by manager Gabe Kapler in the 5th-7th innings. He is one of a strong group of right-handed relievers that also includes David RobertsonPat NeshekHector NerisSeranthony DominguezJuan NicasioEdubray Ramos, and Victor Arano.
Teams usually lose players at some point during the spring training process. But this marks the second injury to a player who was expected to make-up part of the Opening Day roster. Outfielder Odubel Herrera was lost for an undetermined length of time with a hamstring injurylast week.
There is enough roster depth to cover for the loss of Herrera and Hunter at this point. The hope is that these are the most significant injuries that the Phillies have to deal with as they prepare for what is hoped to be a playoff-contending campaign.

Phillies 2019 bullpen just one piece short of elite status

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Juan Nicasio brings a veteran presence to deeper Phillies bullpen

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak had four major boxes that needed to be checked off when this off-season began if he wanted to truly build a contending team for the 2019 season.

Those four were a proven impact run-producer for the middle of the batting order, a better defensive lineup, another veteran starting pitcher (preferably left-handed), and improvements to the bullpen.
With the additions of Andrew McCutchen in left field and Jean Segura at shortstop, the defense should be improved. The club continues to search for the middle-order bat and the southpaw rotation arm.
It cannot be argued that Klentak has not improved the bullpen. Given health, the Phillies relief corps is both talented and deep, and should prove to be a strength for manager Gabe Kapler.
The Phillies have added three new arms to their bullpen. Right-hander Juan Nicasio and left-hander James Pazos arrived as part of the Segura trade from Seattle. Then just days ago the club signed one of baseball’s top relievers over the past decade, David Robertson, as a free agent.

Those three join a returning group that could include any from among righties Hector NerisSeranthony DominguezPat NeshekTommy HunterVictor Arano, and Edubray Ramos. There are two returning lefties in Adam Morgan and Austin Davis as well.
The Phillies could still use a better situational left-handed arm. But a closer look at the statistics shows that the arms needed to win match-ups with big lefty bats may already be here.
Robertson had a 53/10 K:BB ratio against left-handed hitters a year ago. Those opposing lefty batters hit the right-handed Robertson for just a .176 BAA as well as a .378 slugging percentage.
The one negative for Robertson against those lefties was that they got to him for a half-dozen home runs over 132 plate appearances against him. In comparison, he surrendered just one long ball to a right-handed batter over 151 plate appearances against.
During his breakthrough rookie campaign a year ago, lefty batters hit for just a .188 average against Dominguez. His biggest problem with them were walks, as Dominguez handed out 14 free passes to lefties in 116 plate appearances. Compare that to just eight right-handers that he walked over 115 plate appearances.

Ramos also had decent success against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .208 batting average against. Over 58 plate appearances those lefties got to Ramos for just two homers over 58 plate appearances, and he walked just five opposing hitters.
The three primary left-handed relief options at the present time are newcomer Pazos and returnees Morgan and Davis. All three of those southpaw pitchers actually achieved far greater success against right-handed hitters.
Against lefty bats, the Pazos/Morgan/Davis trio allowed 66 hits and walked 26 batters over 273 plate appearances when facing opposition left-handed hitters. Pazos got hit too regularly (.288 BAA) by lefties. Davis was hit hard (.603 slugging percentage) by them. Morgan had severe control issues against them, walking 14 over 121 plate appearances.
I am going to assume that Kapler, Klentak and the Phillies coaching regime are aware of their left-handers’ numbers. My hope is that they won’t simply bring in a lefty arm to face a lefty bat every time. They’ll break down the numbers even further would be my guess, seeing how a particular lefty batter fares against left-handed pitching, for instance.

Klentak is likely not done dealing. There is already a glut of outfielders with McCutchen joining Nick WilliamsRoman QuinnOdubel Herrera, and Aaron Altherr. If the Phillies were to sign Bryce Harper, that glut gets even worse.
If the Phillies were successful in signing Manny Machado, that would create a similar glut on the infield. He and Segura would join Cesar HernandezMaikel Franco, and Scott Kingery.
If Machado signs, plays shortstop, and Segura plays second, then Hernandez is likely trade bait. If it’s Machado at third and Segura at short, then Franco likely becomes the trade bait.
Bottom line is that Klentak is likely to shop every outfielder not named McCutchen, along with either Hernandez or Franco or both, depending on the outcome of the Harper/Machado situations.
Klentak also could be shopping any of the starting pitchers except Aaron Nola or Jake Arrieta. In a trade return the Phillies GM is likely to be looking for an impact left-handed pitcher for either the rotation or the bullpen.
The Phillies bullpen is now noticeably improved. The overall mix could still use that one more piece of a dominant late-innings left-hander. But as of today, the Phillies relief corps is deeper, more talented, and more experienced.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Relief pitching additions give Phillies a stronger, deeper bullpen

Phillies receive strong relief from rookie Victor Arano

By Ian D'Andrea - https://www.flickr.com/photos/143615892@N05/29772550258/in/album-72157671582350228/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71149755
Phillies 2018 rookie reliever Victor Arano
(Photo: Ian D’Andrea via Wiki Commons)
The Philadelphia Phillies have one of the youngest overall rosters in Major League Baseball. 
One of the more anonymous but successful of those youngsters this season has been relief pitcher Victor Arano.
A 23-year-old right-hander originally signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers out of his native Mexico back in 2013, Arano was a starter when first acquired by the Phillies as the “player to be named later” in a 2014 deal for veteran reliever Roberto Hernandez.
The Phillies converted the 6’2, 200-pound Arano to the bullpen full-time beginning in 2016. He would largely thrive in that role while rising through the minor league system over the next couple of years.
Appearing on the verge of a big-league promotion, Arano was backed up some when a UCL sprain in his right elbow sent him to the DL at the outset of the 2017 campaign.
He was able to avoid surgery, and finally received a first cup of coffee in Major League Baseball last September. Arano showed that he could get big-league hitters out during that 10-game audition, when he allowed just six hits over 10.2 innings with a 13/4 K:BB ratio.
Towards the end of last season, respected prospect evaluator John Sickels with Minor League Ball wrote up the following scouting profile on him:

“He can push his fastball as high as 96 but more commonly works around 92-94, mixing the heater with the low-to-mid-80s slider and a mid-80s change-up. While I would not describe his stuff as excellent, he mixes his pitches efficiently and usually throws strikes. He throws harder as a reliever than he did as a starter and the extra velocity improves his margin for error. Overall this is a middle relief profile but Arano is just 22 years old and has demonstrated advanced pitchability skills when he’s going well. He could have a very long career.“

Arano came north with the Phillies from spring training back in March and fared well over another 10 games. But then a mild rotator cuff strain sent him back to the DL in late April. It would take him until May 20 to get back to the Phillies, and he hasn’t left since.
During what is officially his rookie season, Arano has surrendered just 49 hits over 55 innings across 54 games. He has strong 2.45 ERA and 1.164 WHIP marks with a 70/19 K:BB ratio and three Saves.
In a piece on Arano back in early August, Stephen Loftus of Fangraphs described his journey and his season as follows:

“Arano has made a long, quiet trip to the majors. First an underrated signing, then a fringe prospect. First a mediocre starter, now a shutdown reliever. He has molded unique movement and pitchability into an effective arsenal, one that has kept major-league hitters guessing this season.”

As Phillies management begins planning the makeup of what they hope will become a truly contending 2019 roster, Arano will certainly have a place on the pitching staff.
Arano was reportedly unavailable earlier this week due to tenderness in the same right elbow that caused him to miss the start of last season. It was not believed to be serious, and sure enough the pitcher returned for a perfect inning on Thursday night.
Arano is closing his rookie season with a flourish. Appearing in eight of the Phillies 18 games since August 25, he did not surrender an earned run in any of those outings.
Not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, should Arano remain healthy he is likely to remain a valuable member of the Phillies bullpen for years to come.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as Victor Arano closing his strong rookie season on a hot streak