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Report: Pete Mackanin considering taking Jeanmar Gomez out of closer’s role

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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.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.