Harper calls Suarez baseball's best No. 3, sees a payday coming for the lefty

Harper calls Suarez baseball’s best No. 3, sees a payday coming for the lefty originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Bryce Harper crushed a 104 mph double and a 104 mph homer in his final two at-bats Tuesday night, but as usual postgame, he was more interested in talking about everything else that helped the Phillies win.

Namely Ranger Suarez, who fired a shutout to beat the 4-14 Rockies and propel the Phillies to a series win. Suarez struck out eight, successfully fielded four comebackers and finished his start by retiring the final hitter manager Rob Thomson was going to allow him to face. Suarez’ 112-pitch complete game was the first in the National League this season.

“People might not like it but I think he’s the best 3 in the game,” Harper said of Suarez.

“Every time he goes out there, we’ve got a chance to win just like the other two guys that go out there in front of him. Really good on his feet as well, fielding the ball and helping himself out a lot. Just a lot of fun to play behind that.”

Suarez has a 1.73 ERA through four starts. He’s 3-0 and the Phillies are 4-0 behind him. His opponents are 16-for-90, hitting .178. The Phillies have watched him thrive regardless of his role or game situation — starting, relieving, closing, regular season, postseason, good teams, bad teams, home, road — and might have a 28-year-old poised to take the next step. For Suarez, it would mean making 32 starts, taking down 175-plus innings and entering that workhorse conversation.

“I’ve been around a lot of good pitchers and they have kind of that same demeanor,” Harper said. “It’s a lot of fun to see what these guys can do. I just don’t think they make ’em like that anymore really, getting into the seventh inning, grinding through, getting to the eighth inning. A lot of guys are in the minor leagues throwing 3½ innings and getting out of the game. It’s kind of tough for the game.

“So when you have guys that are valuable like that, you’re gonna get paid. You throw 200 innings, you’re going to get a lot of money. I think Ranger’s going to be one of those guys and very fortunate to have him on our side.”

Suarez earns $5.05 million this season, his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. His salary figures to rise to the $10-12 million range in 2025, then he’s a free agent. Aside from Jeff Hoffman, the Phillies don’t have any key players set for free agency after this season, so Suarez could be next in line for an extension.

If he keeps pitching like this, he has a chance to make some serious money.

But that’s a future concern. Right now, his focus is on staying healthy, keeping his ball low in the zone and being as efficient with his pitches as he was Tuesday night. Suarez needed 25 pitches to record the first nine outs and was at 89 entering the ninth inning.

“When I heard my (warmup) song once again in the ninth, my whole body shook,” Suarez said. “I’ve had a long time since I felt that way. I think that feeling helped me get towards that goal of a shutout today.

“Working hard towards getting to this point and in this shape throughout the season is something I set my mind to do during the offseason.”

Suarez will have an extra day before his next start, which will come next Tuesday in Cincinnati.

“Pretty stress-free 89 pitches so I felt pretty good about him going back out there,” Thomson said, noting that he didn’t want to push Suarez any farther because he had previously maxed out at six innings this season.

The Phillies are 10-8 as they go for a sweep Wednesday night.

“That’s the big thing the whole year, just try to win series,” Harper said. “Got a bonus game tomorrow, go out and try to win that.”

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