Phillies

Hector Neris returns to Phillies sooner than expected; Pat Neshek close

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Hector Neris returns to Phillies sooner than expected; Pat Neshek close

The Phillies would like to have seen Hector Neris' remedial assignment to Triple A last a little longer, but …

Edubray Ramos was placed on the disabled list with an impingement in his right shoulder Monday afternoon, so Neris is back just a week after being sent out to clear his head, build some confidence and rediscover command of his splitter.

Neris made just two appearances for Lehigh Valley. In two innings of work, he did not allow a hit. He walked one and struck out two.

Neris returns to the big leagues just in time for the Phillies' three-game series against the 50-win New York Yankees.

"He did have an opportunity to work with (pitching coach) Dave Lundquist down there, and Lundy reported some improvements in the delivery," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We watched his last outing. His fastball looked relatively sharp and his split was good, as well. Does that translate to a whole bunch of success at the major league level? We'll have to wait and see. But certainly, it's encouraging. Ideally, you have a chance to let these things play out, but given the fact that we're playing the Yankees, it's nice to have Hector back."

Neris had been sent down after recording a 6.00 ERA in his first 30 appearances. He gave up 31 hits, including eight homers, in that span.

Ramos last pitched in Sunday night's 8-6 loss at Washington. The Phillies blew a 6-2 lead in that game. Though much of the attention was placed on the Phillies' bullpen not getting the job done in the eighth inning, the Nationals' comeback started in the sixth with three runs, two of which were charged to Ramos.

"He just didn't feel 100 percent last night," Kapler said. "This is very much precautionary, keeping in mind that we want him healthy for the long haul. He actually said that he could pitch if we needed him to, but it didn't seem like the right thing to do for him."

The Phils are getting close to adding two relievers from the disabled list. Luis Garcia is close to being ready. He is on the DL with a sore wrist.

Pat Neshek, who pitched Saturday in Clearwater, will make another rehab outing Tuesday night with Double A Reading. He has not pitched this season because of shoulder and forearm injuries.

Neshek believes he is close to being ready, but he could not pinpoint a return date.

"It's going to be more about how my rhythm is, how my stamina is," the 37-year-old right-hander said. "I felt really good arm-wise but when you come in, you get into a routine and I need to get into that routine again. It might be one more, it might be a couple more, it might be four more.

"I had tears in my arm. It's a process. Before when I had tears in my shoulder, I ended up tearing that trying to rush and come back quick. I want to get back here as soon as I can."

Neshek believes he will help the Phillies' beleaguered bullpen. He figures to work as a setup man, but is open to any role.

"Plug and play, man," he said. "For me, it's never mattered to me what I do. I'll do whatever the manager needs me to do. I've always done that."

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At the Yard podcast: So many questions about Phillies free agency

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At the Yard podcast: So many questions about Phillies free agency

The Phillies free agency questions have been pouring in this offseason and Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman answered some on Monday's At the Yard podcast.

• Does MLB need a free agency deadline?

• Notable early signings last year

• Who will close?

• Future outlook for Aaron Nola

• Astros sign stealing

• What would make 2020 a success for Phillies?

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Phillies free-agent target: Gerrit Cole

Phillies free-agent target: Gerrit Cole

Leading up to baseball’s winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game’s top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.

We start with pitcher Gerrit Cole, who is bound to sign a record-setting contract.

The vitals

The powerful 29-year-old right-hander and former No. 1 overall draft pick (by Pittsburgh in 2011) is the unquestioned prize of this winter’s free-agent class. He has built an impressive career resume, especially recently. He is 35-10 with 2.68 ERA and 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 65 starts over the last two seasons for the Houston Astros. He is durable and postseason tested. He went 20-5 with an American League-best 2.50 ERA in 33 starts in 2019. He had an 0.895 WHIP and led the majors with 326 strikeouts. For the season, his fastball averaged 97.1 mph, according to Statcast. Only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard chucked it harder at 98.1 mph. 

Why he fits

Because he’s one of the best pitchers in the game and would immediately make the Phillies better as they try to live up to general manager Matt Klentak’s goal of winning now. Cole would give the Phils an ace who could stand up to Max Scherzer in Washington, Jacob deGrom in New York and the lineup in Atlanta. As an unquestioned No. 1, he’d take pressure off Aaron Nola, who felt some down the stretch in 2019.

Why he doesn’t fit

“If this were major-league Christmas, we would be looking at 30 stockings that clearly wanted a lump of Cole,” agent Scott Boras said of his client as the market opened last week.

The competition for Cole will be intense as teams from the game’s largest markets bid for his services. Cole is from Southern California and word is the Los Angeles Angels are ready to back up the truck for him. The mega-rich New York Yankees also want him. That sets up a nirvana-like situation for Boras, who can play the two markets off each other. The Phillies will be in on Cole — they’ve already touched base with Boras — and they cannot be counted out because they have money and an owner willing to spend. However, given what it might take to sign Cole, the Phillies might be better off spreading their money around and trying to fill multiple holes in the rotation and lineup.

The price tag

Cole is right in the middle of his prime years. There has been speculation that he could fetch $300 million in a long-term deal. He almost surely will eclipse David Price’s $217 million deal with Boston, a record for a pitcher, and could top Justin Verlander’s annual salary of $33 million, also a record for a pitcher. In other words, he’ll be expensive.

Scout’s take

“It took a while, but it looks like he found out how good his stuff is and his success has given him great confidence. He really knows how to utilize that great fastball high in the strike zone.”

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