Phillies: Hector Neris Is the Philly RP to Own in 2017

Hector Neris was the best reliever on the Phillies in 2016. Even without the closing role label heading into 2017, is he the RP that fantasy owners target?

Relievers are always one of the more highly contested positions in fantasy baseball as most owners have differing approaches at drafting them. As MLB has transitioned to a specialized sport, fantasy leagues should be adjusting to reward those RP that provide value outside of SV. There are always those surprise breakout RP that emerge, and Hector Neris was one.

Hector Neris was signed by the Phillies an amateur free agent in 2010. He joined the minors as a 21-year-old and debuted in 2014. Last season was the first time he stuck at the MLB level for a full season, and he did not disappoint. He finished the season with a 2.58 ERA/1.11 WHIP/102 K/28 HLD line over 80 innings of work.

Even though Jeanmar Gomez was the Phillies’ closer, Neris was easily the best reliever in the bullpen. His career best K numbers certainly helped, and a velocity uptick certainly helped. His fastball routinely sat in the low-90s in years prior, but last season, his fastball sat comfortably in the 94-95 mph range.

While the fastball velocity was a welcome addition, Neris’ splitter is his bread and butter pitch. He throws it over 50% of the time and hitters simply can not barrel it up. Batters had less than .200 AVG versus the pitch last season and he simply took off due to it.

The velocity uptick and disappearing splitter are a dangerous mix. He was able to post a 42% GB rate and 34% FB rate as well, which when calling Citizens Bank Park home, a great ratio mix. His new and improved pitch mix saw him post a 15.4 SwStr% rate, so all signs seem to be pointing up.

Looking forward to 2017, Neris is the RP to own out of the Phillies’ bullpen. The team still has Jeanmar Gomez in the fold, and they also brought in both Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek to help. But, Neris is easily the best arm.

Gomez faded down the stretch and Benoit struggled for most of the season before coming on late. Neris may not win the job right out of the spring, but he will take the job by season’s end. The 100+ K upside is there as his pitch mix is not going anywhere. His splitter is one of the best pitches in baseball, so until batters start to figure it out, he will have tremendous value.

 

In those leagues that reward HLDS, Neris is a great late round selection. For those leagues that do not reward middle relievers, he still shapes up to be a great RP flier in the late rounds as the K output helps stabilize his value. The Phillies should be better this season as well, so look for Neris to be used often. Do not sleep on Hector Neris this spring as he could be in line to be a breakout star in 2017.