Five weeks after losing his job as the Phillies closer, Hector Neris lost his roster spot in the major leagues.
The Phillies demoted Neris to triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday afternoon after he struggled again in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 10-9 win at Milwaukee. They replaced him with Austin Davis, a 25-year-old lefthander who had success in the triple-A bullpen.
Neris has been charged with runs in six of his last nine appearances and did not seem to have the trust to be used in high-leverage situations. Gabe Kapler moved him out of the closer’s role after Neris blew two saves in five days. The Phillies have since gone without a defined closer.
Neris allowed two homers Sunday and has allowed nine earned runs in 11 1/3 innings since he was bumped from the closer role. Sunday’s struggles came just a day after Neris showed some promise with an eight-pitch ninth inning to preserve a 3-0 win.
Davis allowed just one run in his last seven games with Lehigh Valley after spending a week in double A. He has walked just four in his last 20 innings. The Phillies drafted him in the 12th round in 2014, and he was one of the first minor-leaguers to work with Roy Halladay and credited the late pitcher with helping him with the game’s mental side.
“He takes the concepts that we learn about being mentally strong, and he just has a way of it being more applicable to us at a deeper level than it already is,” Davis said last summer. “He knows what you really mean when you’re saying something. It’s like you say something and maybe you’re holding back or being reserved, and he’ll say, ‘No, this is what you really mean. Let me help you out with that.’ He’s been through it himself. He’s had ups. He’s had downs.”