Coming into this season the Philadelphia Phillies acquired a funky throwing, thirty-six year old veteran that had been apart of many a prominent bullpens in the past.
The journey began in 2002 when he was drafted in the sixth round, 182nd overall, out of Bulter. He had to wait until 2006 to make his major league debut and the following years have been very solid.
In a recent interview with Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Pat Neshek described what he thought of being a relief pitcher, “Relieving is a really tough business, confidence and getting on a roll is a big part of it.”
Speaking of being on a roll, you might as well call him butter this year because he’s been THAT good. In case you don’t believe me or haven’t been paying attention to the worst team in the Major Leagues this season here’s the proof in the pudding. In 24 games he’s pitched in this season he’s spanned 22 innings, a sparkling ERA of 0.82, a 0.77 WHIP, and has struck out 21 batters while walking only four.
This sidewinder came from a difficult situation in the pen with the Houston Astros. Not that, that team or bullpen wasn’t good. It was more about Neshek not being comfortable with his role, which was not allowing him to do a lot or pitch in high leverage situations.
“I kind of became a bit player there,” he said. “In ’15, I did a lot of eighth-inning stuff and I think I was second or third in the league in holds, but I had a bad final month where they kind of just gave up on me. In ’16, I just became a sixth-inning righty specialist guy and it was awful. I knew I could do a lot more. So when the trade (to the Phillies) happened I was thrilled. This was the best thing that happened to me in a few years.” (Salisbury)
Despite pitching for the worst team in baseball at the moment, Neshek is very happy with where he’s at and wouldn’t mind sticking around with the rebuilding Phillies. However, he knows that’s not likely to happen with the way the business of baseball is.
Something else I found interesting from the interview was when he said, “I would almost rather retire than do a role like I was doing for them (the Astros). It was miserable.”
Would Neshek like to compete and try to win a World Series ring at some point in his career? I would think so; he is 36 and not getting any younger. But this is a guy to me that just wants to be out there pitching in high leverage situations because he believes he can do it. He loves pitching and certainly showed he’s still got the stuff to do it. The only question left to answer is, whom will he be doing it for come August….?