Last fall, the Phillies purchased Pat Neshek from the Astros and exercised his $6.5 million option. He was easily their best reliever, and then he netted the team three prospects at the trade deadline. Now he’s back — for two years and $16.5 million (and a $500k trade kicker this time!) as Ken Rosenthal is reporting — and the Phillies hope he can continue his good work for the team.
Last year’s production was a high water mark for the pitcher, thanks to a change in philosophy against lefties, perhaps. He had his best career numbers against southpaws last year, thanks to a shift in his use of the slider. He not only used it more against lefties than he had since his first full year in the league, but he also varied its location better.
Take a look at his slider locations to lefties in 2016 (left), when they hit for a .379 wOBA against him, and then those locations in 2017 (right), when they hit for a .261 wOBA against him.
Wait a second. The bad year is the one where he located the slider to two spots and mixed it up. Last year he was awesome against lefties, and he basically threw it a ton and down the middle against them. Weird.
No matter. Against righties, Neshek has been consistently great. He has the sixth-best wOBA against right-handed hitters over the last five years.
Maybe he’ll only be dominant against righties, and then be traded again. That’ll be just fine.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.
I’m interested in this signing. I wonder whether Phillies management wants him as a veteran leader, or as a trade chip down the road. I can’t see the Phillies needing an All-Star reliever purely for the purposes of winning ballgames.
The Phillies’ lineup was a heck of a lot better after calling up Rhys Hoskins, and there’s more help coming with the two top prospects probably ready at some point in 2018. Contending in 2018 is probably a longshot but I’m sure they’re hoping to contend in 2019.