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Pete Mackanin: Jeanmar Gomez “deserves to be called our closer”

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Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has already named a favorite for his team’s closer role: Jeanmar Gomez, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “I believe he deserves to be called our closer at this point,” Mackanin said.

Gomez, 29, finished last season with 37 saves, a 4.85 ERA, and a 47/22 K/BB ratio in 68 2/3 innings. He was solid for the first four months of the season, but ran out of steam in August and September. Between August 1 and the end of the season, Gomez yielded 22 earned runs on 35 hits and 10 walks with 16 strikeouts in 20 innings.

The Phillies added veteran Joaquin Benoit, who posted a 0.38 ERA with the Blue Jays last year, and also have Hector Neris, who compiled a sterling 2.58 ERA over 80 1/3 innings in 2016. Strong spring performances from either could still move the needle.

“I remember back in 2009, my first year as a coach here, when [Brad Lidge] blew a lot of saves and Charlie [Manuel] stuck with him. It proved to be important that he did, even though a lot of people were clamoring for a change. Charlie showed him confidence and stayed with him. I think that was the right thing to do,” Mackanin said.

The Phillies made it back to the World Series in 2009 in spite of Lidge’s ineffectiveness, not because of it. Lidge did not improve as the season went on as his first half ERA was 7.03 and his second half ERA was 7.43. And he famously blew a tie ballgame by serving up three runs in the top of the ninth inning in Game 4 of the World Series against the Yankees. So, pointing to Lidge is not exactly the best example Mackanin could have come up with.

All this being said, the 2017 Phillies team isn’t¬†expected to be a competitive ballclub, so vacillating between closers is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Kris Bryant exits game with sprained right ankle

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The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.

Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.

Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby

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Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.

Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).

Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.