PHILADELPHIA — What is the role of ranger suarez in the Phillies? A starter, as he was throughout the 2022 regular season? Middle reliever, as was the case in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday against the Astros? Or is he a closer, a role he filled Oct. 23 to save Philadelphia in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the NL Championship Series against the Padres to seal the Phillies’ first NL pennant since 2009?
The answer, of course, is that the Venezuelan left-hander has pitched in any of the three roles this postseason, as he has throughout his five years in the big leagues.
“Well yeah, you don’t see these types of (pitchers) often,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson, whose squad is tied 1-1 with the Astros in the 2022 World Series. throwing in your yard. He is having fun.”
Many of Suarez’s teammates have echoed Thomson’s point, both ways: The 27-year-old doesn’t shy away from any responsibility on the mound, serving in whatever role is assigned to him—including role changes. in the middle of a season or a postseason—and he doesn’t let the magnitude of the situation get to him, either.
The best example of this was that NLCS Game 5 against the Padres. Philadelphia’s current relievers—Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado and David Robertson—had already pitched, with the latter wild and giving away two bases in the ninth inning after Bryce Harper’s dramatic home run in the eighth and the Phillies looking finish eliminating San Diego. Having started and won Game 3 of the series two days earlier (5.0 innings, two earned runs, 68 pitches), Suarez was the man to put out the fire with two on and one out.
With just two pitches, Suarez got the remaining two outs and had the crowd at Citizens Bank Park rejoice.
“I don’t think there’s a moment that’s too big for him,” Phillies catcher JT Realmuto said. “Every time he gets the ball, he’s just pitching. He is playing baseball, he is having fun.”
Everyone knows the Phillies adjusted their rotation for the World Series, starting Noah Syndergaard on Monday in Game 3 in place of Suarez, who would normally get it. Why? Because the native of Piedecuesta not only saved the decisive match vs. the Padres, but also in Game 1 of this Fall Classic he got two important outs (strikeout by Cuban Yordan Álvarez, grounded to the mound by Alex Bregman) in Philadelphia’s victory in extra innings. Of course, he’ll now need the extra day off and will start Game 4 on Tuesday.
“The situation, the role… he doesn’t care,” Thomson said. “He’s just going to go out and do his thing and pitch.”
For the vast majority of his minor league career, Suarez was a starter in the Phillies’ system. He was a middle reliever in his first full season in the majors in 2019, before a nearly lost season to COVID-19 in 2020 (10 innings, nine earned runs). Last year, he split his time between the starter and reliever roles. In 2022, he finished establishing himself as a starter. As such, he went 10-7 with a 3.65 ERA in the regular season, including a 2.95 ERA after the All-Star break.
In this postseason, Suárez has allowed six hits and three runs (two earned, 1.86 ERA) in 9.2 innings, with nine strikeouts and five walks. And of course, he has done that in an already wide variety of roles, something that is now customary for him.
“It has been successful for us wherever we have put it,” Realmuto said. “He’s a guy that when he comes into the game, the whole team is confident that the moment isn’t going to be too big for him.”
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What is the role of Ranger Suarez? The lefty knows how to fulfill them all