The Philadelphia Phillies used to be a closer destination.
From the likes of Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge to Tug McGraw and Jonathan Papelbon, there always seemed to be somebody at the end of the bullpen to get the job done and close out a game for the Phillies.
But this season has been different.
On Monday, the Phillies sent closer Hector Neris to Triple-A after he allowed four runs in the ninth inning of last Sunday’s 10-9 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. They’re digging really deep into the bullpen in save situations now until they can find a suitable replacement.
The Phillies used Adam Morgan in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Morgan was showered with boos entering the game as he sported an ugly 15.75 ERA in the month of June, but he was able to get the job done.
“I’ve struggled, but it’s never as bad as it is and it’s never as good as it is,” Morgan said. “You just have to keep going after it and working. You can’t quit. That’s not going to help anything.”
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Neris had a 1-3 record with a 6.00 ERA and 10 saves in 30 games this season for the Phillies. The thinking is that the team will go with a closer-by-committee approach for the time being.
They brought up left-hander Austin Davis from the minors, who had a 0-1 record with a 2.43 ERA in 22 games with the IronPigs. In 2014, Davis worked with Roy Halladay after he was drafted by the Phillies. He attributes a lot of his success to what Halladay taught him.
“He takes the concepts that we learn about being mentally strong, and he just has a way of it being more applicable to us at a deeper level than it already is,” Davis said. “He knows what you really mean when you’re saying something. … He’s been through it himself. He’s had ups. He’s had downs.”
Other arms you could see in a closing role for the Phillies are Luis Garcia, who’s currently on the DL, Seranthony Dominguez, and Edrubray Ramos. None of them have much appeal however among Phillies fans.
The Phillies face the Washington Nationals this weekend on the road. Friday and Saturday’s games will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia while Sunday’s game will air on ESPN.