I just want to start off by saying that I never thought in a million years I would be writing a title like that. But I have to give it to Hector Neris, he’s starting to prove all the long-time critics wrong (myself included) and show the baseball world that he has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Houston, We Have Liftoff
After eight miserable seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, Neris inked a two-year, $17 million deal with Houston in the 2021 offseason. This signing came as no surprise after the Chicago White Sox handed former Astros reliever, Kendall Graveman, a three-year, $24 million deal to join the southside. Graveman was acquired from the Mariners at last season’s trade deadline and went on to aid the team in another World Series run. His 5-1 record and 1.77 ERA over 53 appearances between Seattle and Houston undoubtedly made him one of the must-have relievers for any team seeking bullpen depth.
Neris, on the other hand, was not exactly a shining star in his final season with Philadelphia. In 74.1 IP, he posted a dreadful 3.63 ERA with 98 K’s while simulataneously surrendering 30 earned runs and 12 homeruns (both career-highs). He also had a league-leading five blown saves by the end of June thus causing Girardi to give the closing gig to Jose Alvarado. All of that seems to be behind him, however, as a change of both team and league has attributed to a hot start in 2022.
Through eighteen games played, Neris boasts a respectful 2.12 ERA in 17.0 IP with 16 Ks and a 1-2 record. The aforementioned stats are a career-best for the Dominican reliever but he has yet to post a winning record in any of his nine seasons in MLB. His latest loss comes after a 6-3 defeat to the Boston Red Sox, one in which he allowed three runs on three hits and a walk with one strikeout in the bottom of the eighth inning.
As the old saying goes, you can put a pig in a dress and slap lipstick on it but at the end of the day, it’s still just a pig in a dress wearing lipstick. Regardless, Neris and Houston should continue to enjoy his early season success in hopes that it carries through the rest of the year. The guy is finally pitching his contract’s worth and making the front office look like they acquired a sleeper in the feisty right-hander.
With the loss behind him, Neris will still continue to get the lion’s share of work out of the bullpen given his production and reliability have finally seen the light of day. The Astros are currently facing off in Fenway in the series finale against the Red Sox with a four-game set against Texas starting tomorrow. Nathan Eovaldi (1-1. 3.15 ERA) gains the start for Boston opposite Jose Urquidy (2-1, 4.40 ERA) on the mound for Houston.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire