HomeOther Philly SportsYardbarker Discusses the Struggle of the Phillies' Closer Position

Yardbarker Discusses the Struggle of the Phillies’ Closer Position

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The Philadelphia Phillies closer dilemma entering spring training relates to who will now fill the role. After the offseason departure of Craig Kimbrel, who joined the Baltimore Orioles, the Phillies are looking for a new closer. Missing out on signing Josh Hader who instead went to the Houston Astros leaves the Phillies with a few internal options for the job. This is also partly the result of the Phillies sole offseason bullpen acquisition signing Kolby Allard to add a long relief pitcher. This move also adds flexibility with minor league options. In four appearances last season, including three starts with the Atlanta Braves, Allard had a 0-1 record with a 6.57 ERA, a 69 ERA+, and 13 strikeouts.

Candidates To Resolve Phillies Closer Dilemma

Jose Alvarado

If Phillies manager Rob Thomson elects to name a closer, Jose Alvarado formally is the most likely candidate for the role. In 42 games last season, Alvarado had a 0-2 record with a 1.74 ERA, a 249 ERA+, 64 strikeouts, and ten saves. In his career, Alvarado has 72 games finished, which includes 32 career saves. Alvarado will have a significant bullpen role even in a closer-by-committee setup. Regardless of how Thomson decides to organize the bullpen, Alvarado should be the primary option in high-leverage situations. Alvarado is trustworthy enough to get the-handed ball by Thomson to pitch in the ninth inning to close out the game in a save situation.

Seranthony Dominguez

Another pitcher in the Phillies bullpen with closing experience is Seranthony Dominguez, who could return to the role. In 57 games last season, Dominguez had a 5-5 record with a 3.78 ERA, a 114 ERA+, 48 strikeouts, and two saves. During his career, Dominguez has had 27 saves and 49 games finished. Depending on the specific matchups in that scenario, a closer-by-committee setup would likely see Dominguez close some games. It is also possible that Dominguez will be the primary setup reliever if someone else is the closer. Coming off a down year that was negatively impacted by injuries, Dominguez will need to show some signs of improvement in spring training to earn the closer role for this season.

Jeff Hoffman

Most likely to be used in a setup role, Jeff Hoffman could also close in some scenarios. In a breakout year in 54 games last season, Hoffman had a 5-2 record with a 2.41 ERA, a 180 ERA+, 69 strikeouts, and one save. Last season saw Hoffman have career-bests in ERA, ERA+, and WHIP, along with BB/9 and K/9. Additionally, Hoffman had a career-best 3.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season. While Hoffman has 36 career games finished with two saves, a closer-by-committee setup could see him close sometimes. Although Hoffman has limited closing experience, a breakout season last year sets him up to be a high-leverage reliever for the Phillies this season.

Orion Kerkering

A potential closer of the future, Orion Kerkering, is an under-the-radar choice for the role. In three games last season, Kerkering had a 1-0 record with a 3.00 ERA, 160 ERA+, and six strikeouts. While the sample size is small, Kerkering showed some promise on the mound in those outings. During the postseason last year, Kerkering struggled in the NLCS against the Arizona Diamondbacks, having a 7.71 ERA in four appearances, but pitched well in the other series. These performances helped solidify Kerkering’s spot in the 2024 Phillies bullpen. It would be risky to hand the closing duties to an inexperienced rookie, but the long-term potential may outweigh the short-term risk present in this scenario.

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