By Sarah Berkowitz
Jeanmar Gomez is still the Phillies closer.
“He’s our closer, but the way I look at it is, he’s in a slump like hitters are,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told MLB.com. “For the next couple of chances to close, I’m going to try somebody else, just to give him a break. I said, ‘You’re still the closer, you stay positive, there’s a good chance you’ll have another opportunity to close. But the next couple I’ll give you a breather.'”
Gomez has struggled for more than a month, including on Thursday in a 9-8 loss to the Mets in 11 innings. Gomez allowed a two-run home run to Jose Reyes to tie the game in the ninth. He has an 11.20 ERA (17 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings) in 17 appearances since Aug. 14. He has allowed 25 hits, six walks and three home runs in that span.
Opponents have hit .391 against him.
Mackanin said he will use the best option available if the Phillies need somebody to close. Hector Neris (2.44 ERA in 76 appearances) is the most obvious candidate, but Edubray Ramos (3.83 ERA in 42 appearances) and Joely Rodriguez (5 1/3 scoreless innings in seven appearances) could close, too.
Rodriguez is a candidate because he is left-handed. He could be used if the Phillies are slated to face left-handers in the ninth.
The Phillies’ bullpen was a concern entering the season, and it entered Friday ranked 26th in baseball with a 4.59 ERA. But Mackanin said he thinks there are some pieces to build around next season.
“I feel a lot better, because Neris has emerged and Ramos is making a good statement for himself,” Mackanin said. “He’s got stuff. Even [Michael] Mariot has got stuff. In that respect, I think those three guys and Gomez in the picture, in whatever role, that’s four guys that are usable. I’d like to add some depth to that. And, obviously, Joely has some nasty stuff. If he throws strikes, which he has been able to do, that bodes well for the most part.”