2) Hector Neris
We got to know Hector Neris really well during his first eight big league seasons as a member of the rival Philadelphia Phillies. He eventually worked his way into becoming a closer for them during some leaner years in the City of Brotherly Love. Neris finally left Philadelphia for the Houston Astros after the 2021 season. He was okay in his setup role in 2022 and cranked things up to a whole new level in 2023.
Neris was 6-3 with a 1.71 ERA in 68.1 innings out of the Astros bullpen. Despite the dangerous 4.1 walks per 9 which was atypical for him, Neris seemed to find balance by allowing a career-low 5.4 hits per 9. He excelled where it matters most, run prevention.
Oddly, Neris had a better WHIP the year prior when he had a 3.72 ERA for the Astros. The 1.01 WHIP in 2022 did little good at keeping runners from scoring. He gave up about half as many runs this past year while seeing some numbers go up to suggest he wasn’t so terrific after all.
Let’s call our expectations for Neris in 2024 a little more even. In two years with Houston, he was 12-7 with a 2.69 ERA.
Neris may fit more in the vein of replacing Ottavino due to his age. He’ll be 35 next season and a two-year pact is something he’d more reasonably accept. He almost seems too perfect of a replacement.