PHILADELPHIA -- There are a few teams looking for bullpen help as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches and one reliever that could assist is Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez.
The fact Gomez is an option is surprising in itself. He entered the season as a middle reliever, capable of pitching a couple innings, often in low-stress situations, if needed. But after the bullpen struggled in a 0-4 start, the Phillies essentially elevated Gomez to closer out of desperation.
Gomez, 28, responded to his new role well. He entered Tuesday night's 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park with a 3-2 record and a 2.89 ERA with 25 saves in 28 opportunities. He pitched a scoreless ninth in the defeat.
So why would the Phillies move Gomez, who does not become a free agent until after the 2017 season?
Well, because if Gomez has proven anything, it is that closers can be developed or even discovered. In fact, the Phillies might have a couple of pitchers already in the bullpen ready to take his place should he be traded.
Setup man Hector Neris is 3-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 48 appearances. After a rough patch from late May through mid-June, he has a 1.84 ERA in his last 14 outings.
Rookie right-hander Edubray Ramos has been considered a potential closer for some time. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Monday's 3-2 loss in 11 innings to the Marlins. He has a 5.06 ERA in 12 appearances, but that includes one rough outing on July 7 in Colorado when he allowed five runs in 1/3 innings. He has a 0.87 ERA in his other 11 appearances.
"Other than the outing in Denver, I like his breaking stuff," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He has two sharp breaking pitches. His slider bites, and his curveball bites. Real solid rotation and depth. He has the velocity. He's pretty much a strike thrower."
With Neris and Ramos in the fold, it might make sense for the rebuilding Phillies to strike while Gomez's stock is at its highest. They won't be able to get a huge haul for him, but if they can get a piece that could help them in the future, it might be worth it.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.