The Philadelphia Phillies opened the 2017 season with a bang. No, literally, it was a bang as Cesar Hernandez led off the game with a home run. This was the start a young team like the Phillies needed. In 2016 the Phillies posted one of the worst offenses in the league. This season, at least for one game they sent a message that the past is behind them.
Jeremy Hellickson showed why he deserved the mound as the Opening Day starter as he pitched 6 innings, allowed one run on six hits. But it wasn’t just his arm that did damage to the Cincinnati Reds. In the 6th inning, Hellickson helped his cause by driving in a run with his first career triple. As great of an at bat as that was, it was still the arm of the Phillies starter that left the Reds baffled for much of the afternoon.
Not to be outdone in the hitting department was Freddy Galvis who added a solo shot in the 2nd inning. All-in-all, the Phillies racked up 10 hits, an area they needed to address heading into the new year and may have found their weapons in some of the new faces. Howie Kendrick, the veteran in the lineup had 3 hits, and newcomer, Michael Saunders doubled to deep left for his first RBI as a Phillie.
However, all was not good on this day. The Phils got the win but it was a struggle as usual.
For some reason, manager Pete Mackanin likes Jeanmar Gomez at the end of games. Yes, this is the same Gomez that closed the season with 37 saves, however, he’s also the same player that struggled at the end of the year as well. His job was on the line and it was thought to have been handled when the Phillies acquired Joaquin Benoit.
No such luck.
Mackanin decided to let Benoit pitch one inning and then he sent the cavalry in only to watch it almost collapse again under the protection of Gomez. After the game, Mackanin had this to say regarding Gomez and his job security.
I’m concerned about it,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “For me, he’s earned the right to be the closer for now, but he’s got to get the ball down.
Mackanin is playing with fire. The young hitters look ready, the starting pitchers look ready but the bullpen, that’s another story.