Dodgers reliever destroying Phillies’ Odubel Herrera with slider never gets old

Adam Weinrib
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12: Yency Almonte #38 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after pitching in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12: Yency Almonte #38 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after pitching in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /
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Allow Yency Almonte to pre-introduce himself as the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ next bullpen weapon in a seemingly endless line of them, many salvaged from somebody else’s scrap heap.

Before most fans even knew Almonte was on the roster and available, he completed three successful innings of work in the Dodgers’ weekend series against the Phillies, though two of those innings were distinctly cleaner than the third.

His Dodger debut was sterling, as the ex-Rockies right-hander delivered two perfect innings and four strikeouts in Thursday’s series-opening loss.

Though the first three games of this series were gut-wrenching, all in their own unique ways, the Dodgers pulled out Sunday’s finale at the literal last second — thanks, in part, to Almonte’s three-walk inning of work, which he escaped in part due to the between-the-legs magic he accomplished with Odubel Herrera at the plate.

Pay close attention to the contrast between Orel Hershiser’s exuberance and the Phillies’ broadcast’s disbelief as they both realize the same thing.

For the Philadelphia crew, Herrera whiffing on a ball in the dirt/between his wildly swinging legs probably served as a last-minute reminder that, even when the home team’s down, crazy things can still happen to unsuspecting prey at Dodger Stadium, an impulse confirmed by Gavin Lux just a bit later.

Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Yency Almonte nutmegged Odubel Herrera

Couldn’t have happened to a better guy, that Odubel Herrera!

Like the vast majority of the Phillies’ lineup these days, Herrera has been a genuine threat at the plate in 2022, posting a 135 OPS+ in an offensive comeback season. This isn’t some pushover (like, say, 2020 Herrera) in a big spot. Almonte went five-hole on someone who’s been connecting powerfully with pitches all year.

Almonte, who completed his second rise to the bigs this past week in place of Ryan Pepiot, has tamed the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League thus far this season, whiffing 42.4% percent of the batters he’s faced in a league where, when batters make contact, the ball typically sails.

For a right-hander who’s used to Coors Field air, though, that might not have been a problem. Plus, he crafted a foolproof counter-attack: make hitters look stupid by sliding balls between their appendages.

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