Who’s the closer? Phillies 25-Man Power Rankings, Vol 2

Seriously, the bullpen is a big issue.

High five, Brock Stassi. You're in the top 15 this week.

High five, Brock Stassi. You're in the top 15 this week.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
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The NFL Draft is over. It was a fun, wild ride, an event that showed the very best of what Philadelphia has to offer. But now that it’s over, now that the obsession has crested and exhausted itself on the shores of our collective attention, perhaps it’s now OK to turn our attention to the boys who play the based ball.

Yes, the Phillies have been playing baseball games that count for a whole month now! I know, right? As of this post, the Phillies stand at 12-12 following their surprising 10-2 shellacking of the Cubs in Chicago on Monday.

Since the last time we did these rankings, the Phillies went on a six-game winning streak, then a three-game losing streak, with a victory against the defending world champs thrown in, too. How has that affected the 25-man roster power rankings? Who has fallen (clears throat…Bullpen, I’m looking in your general direction) and who might soon be gone?

Hector Neris reacting to a blown save against the Dodgers.

Hector Neris reacting to a blown save against the Dodgers.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Not appearing on this week’s list are Aaron Nola and Howie Kendrick, both of whom are on the 10-day DL. The team hopes to have them both back soon. And reliever Luis Garcia was sent back down to AAA for the ELEVENTH time in his career over the weekend. The dude can drive from Philadelphia to Lehigh Valley blindfolded (although that is not recommended).

Here is the second take of the Phillies’ 25-man roster power ranking (each player’s previous ranking in parentheses).

25. Ty Kelly (N/A)

The Phillies acquired him from… somewhere. I could look it up if I remembered but it’s really not worth your time or mine, so we’ll just move on. He won’t be here long.

24. Jeanmar Gomez (25)

Gomez is one of the members of the Phillies’ struggling bullpen, a group that has blown five saves and has given up an MLB-most 20 home runs this season. They had a horrible series last weekend against the Dodgers, which means you’re about to notice a run on relievers.

23. Hector Neris (8)

I don’t know who…

22. Joaquin Benoit (18)

…the closer is. Do you?

Monstrous blown saves by both Hector Neris and Joaquin Benoit have put their positions as ninth-inning closers in doubt.

21. Mark Leiter Jr. (N/A)

Leiter gets bonus points for being only the second father-son combination to both play for the Phillies (his dad was a starting pitcher who played in Philadelphia from 1997-98, leading the league in losses in ‘97, with 17). Ruben Amaro Jr. and Sr. were the only others.

20. Edubray Ramos (22)

He’s still here.

19. Joely Rodriguez (23)

He’s still left-handed.

18. Nick Pivetta (N/A)

Pivetta is subbing for the injured Nola and performed OK in his MLB debut last Sunday against the Dodgers, giving up two runs in five innings of work. At least we’re not watching Severino Gonzalez, David Buchanan or Adam Morgan get blitzed in these fill-in starts.

17. Cameron Rupp (20)

Still not hitting.

16. Andrew Knapp (19)

Still has a beautiful mustache.

15. Andres Blanco (21)

Blanco has had 11 at bats this season. His nickname shouldn’t be Whitey, it should be Small Sample Size.

14. Brock Stassi (17)

Since last time, Brock has hit a three-run home run and met Vince Papale, so yeah I think full-on “legend” status for Mr. Stassi has happened.

13. Tommy Joseph (16)

That sound you hear is the footsteps of Lehigh Valley slugger Rhys Hoskins getting louder and louder behind Tommy Joseph. But the young Earnest Borgnine look-alike helped his own cause by hitting a huge three-run homer in the series opener against Chicago Monday. He’s also blissfully unaware of when bubble gum is stuck to the top of his head.

12. Michael Saunders (14)

Saunders is hitting .253 with an OPS of .685 in 87 plate appearances.

11. Freddy Galvis (15)

10. Pat Neshek (9)

Neshek is the one member of the bullpen who hasn’t suffered the slings and arrows of the closer’s role this season, and one has to wonder if the side-winding Neshek will get a chance when the next save opportunity arises. It should still be Neris, in my opinion, but manager Pete Mackanin has had a quicker trigger finger than Scarface on coke when it comes to replacing his closer so far this season, so I guess we’ll see.

9. Maikel Franco (5)

Maik’s numbers are pretty bad. He’s hitting a meager .207 with an on-base percentage of .279 and a slugging percentage of .370. But he’s been hitting the ball hard all season, with balls coming off his bat at just shy of 91 mph this season, which is the 30th-best mark in baseball. He has cut way down on his strikeouts and is walking more, which usually leads to good things. Some bad luck is in play here, but Franco needs to do more, to be sure.

8. Daniel Nava (10)

Nava is tied for 3rd on the Phillies in Wins Above Replacement and has gotten on base in 48.9 percent of his plate appearances so far this year, which is best on the team. He’s been a really useful engine.

7. Zach Eflin (12)

It turns out pitching on two knees that don’t suffer from degenerative pain is a good thing for a pitcher! Go figure. After two off-season knee surgeries to alleviate the pain, Eflin has a 1.89 ERA in three starts so far.

6. Vince Velasquez (6)

Velasquez still has issues pitching deep into games (he lasted just five innings in last night’s win at Chicago), and the calls for closer tryouts for him are talked about in dark, hidden circles, which is where those conversations should remain. For now.

5. Jerad Eickhoff (3)

Jerad Eickhoff

Jerad Eickhoff

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Eickhoff continues to do his thing, with a 3.56 ERA in five starts. He’s pitched at least six innings in each of his last three starts, even though he has an 0-2 record to show for it. It doesn’t help the Phils’ offense has averaged 1.5 runs per game of support in his five outings so far this season.

4. Jeremy Hellickson (7)

I’m officially in the “Let’s give Hellickson a contract extension” camp, as I wrote about last week. He only has 11 strikeouts in 30 innings this year, so his outstanding ERA of 1.80 won’t stay that low all season. But he’s the veteran anchor of a young rotation, shouldn’t be too expensive to re-sign, and does a lot of things the younger starters don’t do yet, which is to pitch deep into games.

3. Odubel Herrera (2)

Herrera is having another very solid season, batting .270 with a .343 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .416. He has three dingers, too, and with each one comes another glorious bat flip. Although, to be honest, I question the decision to flip the bat on his two-run home run on Sunday with two outs in the ninth inning of a game in which they trailed by four runs and were on the verge of being swept. Kinda like celebrating a touchdown with under two minutes in a game you’re trailing by 20 points, but whatever.

2. Aaron Altherr (13)

Kendrick’s trip to the disabled list a couple weeks ago opened up some playing time for Altherr, and he has taken full advantage of it. He is hitting .313 with an on-base percentage of .377 and a slugging percentage of .563 in 53 plate appearances, with two homers and six doubles. He also plays above average defense, steals bases and scores a ton of runs. I’m starting to think he is truly a member of this team’s core moving forward.

1. Cesar Hernandez (1)

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
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MLB All-Star Game voting has officially begun, and right now, really only Hernandez (perhaps Hellickson as well) is deserving of an All-Star spot. He leads all second basemen in WAR (1.3) and runs scored (22), is 4th in batting average (.337) and SLG (.545) and is 3rd in OBP (.385).

We’re starting to see some of the young stars emerge as core members of what we hope will be the next playoff Phillies team, gang.

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