PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Gabe Kapler said the Phillies' bullpen is just fine, despite its struggles over the past month.In fact, he said he and his son exchanged text messages recently about the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. His son asked if the Phillies might acquire a relief pitcher before the
PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Gabe Kapler said the Phillies' bullpen is just fine, despite its struggles over the past month.
In fact, he said he and his son exchanged text messages recently about the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. His son asked if the Phillies might acquire a relief pitcher before the Deadline. Kapler said he did not think they needed one, citing the eventual return of Pat Neshek and Luis Garcia and the presumed improvement of others.
"We've got a good bullpen," Kapler said. "I'm confident in it. We're good."
But not everything is well. The Phillies optioned right-hander Hector Neris to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday. Neris opened the season as the Phillies' closer, but he lost his job last month. He recorded a save on eight pitches Saturday in a 4-1 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park, but he allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning Sunday in a 10-9 victory over the Brewers.
The Phillies decided then that Neris needed a change of scenery. They promoted Triple-A left-hander Austin Davis to take his place on the 25-man roster.
"We would like Hector to clear his head," Kapler said. "It feels like the right time for him to work on his command of his split specifically, and he just quite frankly needed a refresher. Sometimes that refresher, sometimes that recharge can change everything and get him right back on track."
There is no timetable for Neris' return.
"It is our expectation that Hector will be back with the Phillies this season, helping and contributing to a playoff run and hopefully beyond," Kapler said.
Neris went 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA in 30 appearances. His hard-hit rate (41.7 percent) is the highest of any Phillies pitcher. Kapler said he does not know if Neris' struggles with his splitter are mechanical or mental.
"It's something we continue to dig into," Kapler said. "We've tried to find some mechanical flaws. His stuff is there. He's still 95 [mph]. You still see flashes of the split being brilliant. We don't have to go that far back to see it."
The Phillies' bullpen has a 5.07 ERA from May 8 through Sunday. Entering the season, Kapler believed the bullpen to be a strength. He said he believes it still is, despite the recent results. So does that mean that Kapler does not think the Phillies need to upgrade the bullpen before July 31?
"I personally think upgrades are always beneficial, no matter where they come," he said. "But I'm very confident in our bullpen, in the pieces that are in there tonight, and I'm very confident in the pieces we have when everybody is healthy."
Davis, 25, went 0-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 22 appearances with the IronPigs. The Phillies selected him in the 12th round of the 2014 Draft.
"He's had control of three pitches," Kapler said. "Dependable strike thrower so far. The reports I got on him are that he's got three plus pitches, so three above-average Major League pitches, and that the teammate stuff is really good as well. We ask about each pitch individually. We ask about his ability to throw those pitches for strikes and we ask about what kind of teammate he is and what kind of preparer he is. And all of those reports came back especially positive."
• Garcia will see Phillies physicians on Monday to have his sore right wrist examined.
"Things are going smoothly there," Kapler said. "We're just going to get him checked out one more time."
• Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (right index and middle finger issue) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday.
• Neshek threw a live batting practice session Sunday in Clearwater, Fla., and is scheduled to throw another BP session Wednesday.
"Then we'll start thinking about his rehab assignment and where we want him to start," Kapler said.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.