Phillies flyby: Hector Neris optioned, Austin Davis promoted

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It appears the Phillies have finally seen enough of Hector Neris, at least for the time being. After pitching to a career worst 6.00 ERA to begin the season, Neris has been optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. This season, Neris has been a shell of his former self, giving up 41 baserunners in 27 innings pitched. He’s served up eight homeruns, just one shy of his single-season high. The difference this year, however, is, of course, it’s only June. Neris has set career highs (read, career worsts) in hits per nine, walks per nine and homeruns per nine. Neris will now head to the minor leagues in order to attempt to clear his head and find his control again.

Replacing Neris in the Phillies’ bullpen is 25-year-old Austin Davis. Davis was selected by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. After being selected with the 352nd pick in that year’s Draft, Davis is now set to become the third player chosen by the Phillies that summer to reach the Major Leagues, behind Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins. Nola was the team’s first round pick, and Hoskins was selected in the fifth round that year. Davis was chosen after pitching for three seasons and Cal State Bakersfield. He’ll become the first Roadrunner to pitch in the Major Leagues when he makes he eventual debut.

After signing with the Phillies, Davis appeared in 14 games with the Rookie ball team in 2014. He threw 31.1 innings, winning and losing one game. While he surrendered 33 hits, Davis walked just seven and struckout 27 on his way to a 2.59 ERA that season. He recorded three of four save opportunities out of the bullpen that year.

After enjoying success in the Golf Coast League in 2014, Davis was promoted to Full Season-A Lakewood to begin 2015. He would spend the entire 2015 season with the Blue Claws, tossing 95.2 innings in 33 appearances. Davis was extremely reliable out of the bullpen that season, lowering his opponent’s batting average nearly 40 full points. While he did surrender more runs, he still pitched to a respectable 3.76 ERA. Davis started 11 of his 33 appearances, tossing one complete game along the way. He finished the season 5-6.

While Davis pitched well in 2015, it wasn’t enough to earn an immediate promotion to begin 2016. He started the season on the disabled list for Lakewood, and was eventually transferred to Rookie Ball for a rehab assignment. Throughout 2016, Davis made seven appearances for Lakewood, throwing 13 scoreless innings. He struckout 17 over those 13 innings pitched, surrendering just six hits in the process. Midway through 2016, Davis was promoted to High-A Clearwater. Davis did not find the successes he did in Lakewood at the next level, as he was touched up quite a bit in 11 appearances. He gave up 16 hits and 10 runs in 15.1 innings pitched, finishing his time in Clearwater with a 5.28 ERA.

Despite his struggles in 2016 with Clearwater, the organization showed confidence in Davis to begin 2017, placing the lefty on the Threshers roster to begin the year. He found much greater success in 2017, making ten appearances in Clearwater, pitching 22.1 innings. He posted a 2.01 ERA over that stretch, as he struckout 29 batters and pushed his WHIP under one, to 0.99. Midway through May, Davis was promoted to Double-A Reading, where he remained for the rest of the season. As August came to an end, Davis found himself on the disabled list with an elbow strain, where he missed 11 days. Despite losing time to injury, Davis appeared in 32 games out of the Fightin’ Phils’ bullpen, finding immediate and lasting success. Over those 32 appearances, Davis tossed 47 innings to the tune of a 2.87 ERA. He surrendered 65 baserunners, but was able to tightrope his way out of danger on multiple occasions. Davis struckout 46 over 47 innings in 2017.

The low ERA and ability to work out jams benefited Davis, who was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to begin 2018. Over the first three months of the season, Davis appeared in 22 games, throwing 29.2 innings. He allowed just 19 hits, walking an additional eight batters over that span. He collected a 2.70 ERA through June with the Iron Pigs. For a brief period of time this season, 11 days to be exact, Davis was sent to Reading, where he appeared in four games. He went 1-1 over that time, allowing seven runs, three earned, over seven innings pitched. He was recalled to Lehigh Valley on June 1. 17 days later, Davis was promoted once more, this time to the big league roster.

Davis may be a short term answer until Neris gets his head right, but the young lefty will, at the very least, have a chance to prove himself at the Major League level the way Gabe Kapler uses his bullpen.

 

Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

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