After posting an unsightly 5.18 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 26 appearances with Seattle, Joaquin Benoit was traded to Toronto in late July. He unexpectedly dominated out of the Jays' bullpen, managing a stellar 0.38 ERA with 24 strikeouts over 25 appearances. However, the 38-year-old tore his calf while running in from the bullpen to join a benches-clearing brawl in late September, and that injury forced him to miss the postseason. Overall, Benoit posted a career-worst 4.5 BB/9, his worst FIP (3.94) in four seasons and his highest WHIP (1.27) since 2008. Benoit's mid-90s fastball will put him in the mix for to close for the Phillies after he signed with Philadelphia in the offseason, although Hector Neris would seem like the better bet to lead the team in saves.
Manager Pete Mackanin said after Friday's game that he is not naming Hector Neris his closer and reiterated that he feels comfortable with both Neris and Benoit in the ninth inning, Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Benoit was used in a setup role Friday in front of Neris for a second straight night. Mackanin may be saying both pitchers can close, but his actions indicate Neris, who earned his second save Friday, will get the bulk of the save chances if he continues to convert.
Manager Pete Mackanin declined to name a closer Thursday after he used Hector Neris instead of Benoit to close out a 6-4 victory over the Mets, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports. "As I said originally, I'm not naming anybody the closer," Mackanin said. "I was going to use Benoit for the time being. It just occurred to me: It's nice to have two guys who can close. It was a good opportunity for me to use Neris. He came through very well." Benoit blew a save chance Sunday in Washington, which seems to have opened the door for Neris. Benoit was used in the eighth inning Thursday, but it sounds like he is still in the mix for save chances. Mackanin wouldn't call his closing situation a committee approach, and instead said he trusts both pitchers in the eighth and ninth.
Benoit allowed three runs on two hits and a walk across two thirds of an inning to blow his first save of the season Sunday against the Nats. Entering with a one-run lead, Benoit walked one batter and allowed a single before Bryce Harper walloped a two-out, three-run homer to center to win the game. Benoit was recently anointed the Phillies' closer and converted his first save opportunity, but this development will not help his job security with the effective Hector Neris still lurking behind him.
Benoit was named Philadelphia's closer Monday, Meghan Montemurro of the News Journal reports. After removing Jeanmar Gomez from closing duties, manager Pete Mackanin announced that Benoit will take the job. In the 2016 season, Benoit converted 18 of his 21 save opportunities while posting a 2.81 ERA and 1.27 WHIP; he could also prove to be an inexpensive source of strikeouts, as he's finished six of the last seven seasons with a K/9 over 9.00.
Benoit will begin to ease himself into action over the final three weeks of spring training, Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Benoit has pitched in just one of the Phillies' first 15 Grapefruit League games and said he only intends to pitch about six times prior to the start of the season to get his arm ready. The veteran has been keeping active by throwing bullpen sessions and batting practice. Benoit will begin the regular season in a setup role pitching in front of Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez.
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