Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez hasn’t done much to inspire confidence in his ability to handle the ninth inning. He served up a two-run home run to the Reds’ Scooter Gennett, cutting the Phillies’ lead from 4-1 to 4-3 in the ninth inning on Opening Day. On Sunday against the Nationals, Gomez erased a 3-0 lead when he gave up a game-tying, three-run home run to Ryan Zimmerman.
Gomez’s struggles date back to last season. Between August 14 and the end of the regular season, Gomez appeared in 19 games, accrued 15 innings, and gave up 22 earned runs on 29 hits and eight walks with 10 strikeouts. That’s a rather large 13.20 ERA for those keeping score.
Gomez doesn’t have the stuff often seen with closers. He struck out batters at a meager 15.8 percent clip last season, well below the 22.7 percent league average for relievers. His 7.4 walk rate was only marginally below nine percent league average as well, not nearly good enough to make up for the lack of whiffs. Gomez has a fastball that sits in the low-90’s, relying more on getting ground balls. But the two ground balls he induced for outs in the ninth inning Sunday were his first two of the season; he has yielded five fly balls and three line drives.
MLB.com’s Ben Harris reports that manager Pete Mackanin is “considering” demoting Gomez from the closer’s role. He’ll have a talk with the veteran to determine his next steps. It would not be surprising to see Joaquin Benoit or Hector Neris take over the ninth inning if not on Monday, then before the month is out.