Hector Neris rediscovers his splitter and thrives
The Phillies reliever has gone back to his money pitch. He won with it on Sunday.
In the week since Hector Neris surrendered debilitating back-to-back-to-back homers, he has appeared three times for the Phillies. He has not allowed another run. He pitched the final two innings Sunday in a 6-5 comeback win over Washington and retired all six Nationals batters he faced.
Five of the outs were recorded using his splitter. The Phillies have implored Neris to throw the dominant pitch more often.
"I think so. I'm hoping so," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He threw some real good ones. He's using it more. The more he uses it, the more hitters have to worry about it, and they can't sit on his fastball."
Since that disastrous outing at Dodger Stadium in which he trusted his fastball over his splitter, Neris has thrown 43 pitches. He has gone to the splitter 30 times. That is the ratio that the Phillies prefer, and it is one that made Neris into a shutdown reliever.
The two innings Sunday instilled more confidence.
"Neris," Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson said, "was Neris."
Nola heading for rehab start
Aaron Nola threw a bullpen session before Sunday's game and emerged without a problem with his injured back. Mackanin said Nola will pitch in a minor-league game sometime this week. Provided that goes well, Nola could rejoin the rotation soon.
"Everything felt good," Nola said.
Nola has not pitched since April 20. Both triple-A Lehigh Valley and double-A Reading are at home this week.
Jayson Werth smacked two more home runs Sunday, giving him 22 homers against the Phillies. That is his most against any opponent. His 67 career homers at Citizens Bank Park are the fifth-highest total in ballpark history behind Ryan Howard (198), Chase Utley (129), Jimmy Rollins (94) and Pat Burrell (76).
A reporter told Werth the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 World Series was soon. Would he like to be a part of that?
"I'm probably going to have a game that day," he said with a smile.
He added: "I would think that since I was on that team I'd probably be a part of that celebration. But maybe not next year. Maybe like the 15-year. Twenty-year for sure."
Both of Werth's home runs were with two strikes. The Phillies have permitted 19 two-strike homers this season, the most in baseball. . . . Vince Velasquez was the first Phillies pitcher with a pinch hit since Cole Hamels on April 10, 2008. . . . The Phillies are off Monday before interleague play begins Tuesday when Seattle comes to Citizens Bank Park. It will mark the return of Carlos Ruiz, who is splitting time at catcher for the Mariners with former Phillies farmhand Tuffy Gosewisch.