Notes: Alvarado to close; Feliz joins Phillies

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NEW YORK -- José Alvarado is getting his shot as Phillies closer.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi announced the change before Friday’s doubleheader against the Mets at Citi Field. Héctor Neris has a 12.46 ERA with three blown saves in his last five appearances, after posting a 1.90 ERA with nine saves in 11 opportunities in his first 25. But the Phillies cannot afford to have Neris work through his struggles in big moments right now. They are desperate for wins.

Alvarado is 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA and two saves in 29 appearances this season. He has struck out 36 in 26 2/3 innings, but he has walked 23. Since he walked three and allowed a wild pitch and passed ball in one inning against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on June 10, he has pitched five scoreless innings, striking out eight and allowing one hit and one walk.

So Girardi is going with the hot hand.

“He’s throwing the ball extremely well,” Girardi said. “Could there be situations where we have to use someone else? Yeah, if we’ve used him a couple days in a row and have to use someone else. I’d probably lean toward Archie [Bradley] then because Archie’s done it, too.”

Neris could return to the closer’s role at some point. He has done it before.

“I think he still wants to be our closer,” Girardi said. “We went through this last year, then Héctor was really good in those situations. He’s a real team player and he’ll do whatever we ask. He doesn’t necessarily like what’s happening and I wouldn’t expect him to because I think players have belief in themselves that they’ll turn it around all the time.

“It just comes down to location for Héctor. Location of his fastball and split, and if he’s throwing his split for strikes then he can expand with it. It’s just been a little bit of a struggle. He just hasn’t been as sharp as he was early on, so we’ve got to get him back to where he was.”

After four years, Feliz is back
Neftalí Feliz finally got the call on Wednesday. He was back.

Feliz, 33, came to Phillies camp this spring as a non-roster invitee, hoping to resurrect his career after making the American League All-Star team and winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award with the Rangers in 2010. He posted a 1.26 ERA in 15 appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, striking out 23 and walking six in 14 1/3 innings. Feliz got the call after the Phillies placed right-hander Sam Coonrod on the 10-day injured list and designated right-hander David Hale for assignment.

Feliz’s first appearance with the Phillies will be his first in the big leagues since Aug. 13, 2017.

“It’s been a long road for me,” Feliz said through the team’s interpreter. “I’m not going to lie to you, it was a difficult time for me. But I enjoyed the time with my family and I always kept my head up. I have the confidence in myself. I knew if I worked hard that this could happen. I feel like I can still be that guy. In addition, now, I have experience.”

Hale got DFA’d after he allowed a grand slam to Josh Bell in a tough sixth inning on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. He had a 6.41 ERA in 17 appearances.

Girardi said that he used his mop-up man in a big spot against the Nationals because Connor Brogdon, Ranger Suárez, Bailey Falter and Spencer Howard were unavailable.

Girardi further explained Friday why those four could not pitch. He said because Brogdon threw 25 pitches over two innings on Tuesday and because he threw over the weekend in San Francisco, they wanted to stay away from him. Suárez threw 17 pitches on Tuesday and 42 on Saturday, which took him out of the equation.

“We just felt with the quick turnaround it was too much,” Girardi said.

The Phillies are paying close attention to Howard’s workload, and after he threw 53 pitches on Sunday, they simply were not comfortable using him. Falter, like Howard, is a starter and he threw 17 pitches on Tuesday. He has not pitched back-to-back games before.

“You can push guys, but a lot of times when you push guys you end up not getting their best stuff and then they start doing things they shouldn’t be doing and it gets them out of whack,” Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate, but we were in a game Tuesday where we didn’t get much length. We had a chance to win that game and we used Ranger in that game. Twelve runs [Wednesday] should be enough [to win], though.”

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