PHILADELPHIA -- Seranthony Dominguez is the 23-year-old right-hander with a cool name and a scintillating fastball.Dominguez joined the Phillies' bullpen before Monday night's 11-0 victory over the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. He pitched a perfect eighth, striking out Evan Longoria looking on a 3-2 slider. Dominguez's fastball averaged 97.7
PHILADELPHIA -- Seranthony Dominguez is the 23-year-old right-hander with a cool name and a scintillating fastball.
Dominguez joined the Phillies' bullpen before Monday night's 11-0 victory over the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. He pitched a perfect eighth, striking out Evan Longoria looking on a 3-2 slider. Dominguez's fastball averaged 97.7 mph.
"It's a moment I will never forget in my life," said Dominguez, who added that he was not nervous. "That's my personality. It is a moment I have been waiting for. It is something I have been getting ready for mentally and physically. I just took it as, 'Well this is my time. Now I have to show them that I'm ready.'"
Dominguez replaces Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained back.
"There are a lot of reasons to like Seranthony," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "The first reason is, he's got a really big fastball and the slider and changeup play well also. But the thing that I find most impressive about him is his composure and his maturity and his mental readiness. Those are the things that stood out in Spring Training and continue to stand out as we watch video, as we look at numbers and we remember back to Spring Training."
Kapler took a busman's holiday to Double-A Reading on April 23, where he watched Dominguez pitch. Dominguez, who is the organization's No. 11 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, posted a 2.08 ERA in eight appearances with Reading, striking out 18 and walking two in 13 innings. He was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on April 27, where he struck out three and walked one in 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
Dominguez profiles as a closer because of his shutdown stuff and fearless demeanor. Kapler said Monday that he has no set roles for his relievers, meaning perhaps it is not crazy to think that Dominguez could be pitching in the ninth inning for the Phillies at some point. Hector Neris blew a save Sunday in Washington.
"I would have no hesitation putting him in a high-leverage situation," Kapler said of Dominguez. "Does that mean the ninth inning or the sixth inning specifically? No. But I'm not going to say we won't use him in any inning either."
Neris' splitter vanishes
Neris became the team's closer because of his splitter. It is an effective pitch, which is why it stood out Sunday that he abandoned it in a loss against the Nationals.
Neris threw just seven splitters out of 19 pitches total (39.8 percent) as he blew a one-run lead in a 5-4 loss. He has thrown the pitch 49 percent of the time this season, which is down from the previous two seasons -- 51.17 percent in 2017 and 50.15 percent in '16.
Kapler said he had no problem with the use of Neris' splitter.
"Some days Hector's going to attack with his fastball and some days he's going to attack with his split," Kapler said. "One thing we know is that the split is a real 70-80 grade pitch. It's a pitch he's used effectively in the past, continues to use effectively and we want him to continue to utilize. But there are going to be days when he leans more heavily on his fastball. Perhaps that's because he has more confidence in that pitch that night. He's a pretty experienced dude with a good track record of success and we trust he understands how to utilize his pitches well."
Batters have hit just .184 against the splitter the previous three seasons, although they are hitting .300 (9-for-30) against the pitch this year. Batters have hit .265 against his four-seam fastball the past three seasons, but only .200 (3-for-15) this year.
"Do I think he could have utilized the splitter more yesterday?" Kapler said. "I think in hindsight, yes. But if he had gotten outs with his fastball we wouldn't be having this discussion."
• Right-hander Mark Leiter (strained right forearm) pitched in a rehab assignment Sunday with Class A Advanced Clearwater. Kapler said Leiter "pitched great. In his mind he's doing very, very well."
• Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (strained right lat) could pitch in an extended spring training game Tuesday.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.