There is no denying it. This is a bad year for the Philadelphia Phillies. What was supposed to be a rebuilding year saw the team take about three steps back and finish the first half of the season with a 29-58 record, the worst in the majors.
But there has been one bright spot, and that is the Phillies lone All-Star representative. Reliever Pat Neshek has a 1.27 ERA with a 2-2 record, nine holds, and 36 strikeouts in 35 innings. He also got to show his stuff on the national stage at the Mid-Summer Classic in Miami. Neshek came in in the second inning to relieve National League starter Max Scherzer and threw one shutout inning, allowing just one hit and throwing eleven pitches, nine of them for strikes.
The Phillies certainly have one solid member of the bullpen. But for those thinking Philadelphia will build its middle relief corps around Pat Neshek, think again. It is possible that by this time next month, Neshek could be in a pennant race with Boston.
Rumors abound that the Red Sox are very interested in adding Neshek to their bullpen for the stretch drive. Yet, Boston has the third best bullpen ERA in the majors with a 3.08 and has stranded 80 percent of baserunners. So why the need for another arm? The Sox front office does have some concerns on whether Joe Kelly, who had a great first half (3-1, 1.49 ERA), might tire in the second half. Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree have done all right (3.40 and 3.57 ERAs respectively), but are by no means shutdown guys. Getting Neshek could prove a great insurance policy for a bridge to closer Craig Kimbrel.
The 36-year-old Neshek made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2006 and remained with them until 2010. He also had stints with the Padres, A’s, Cardinals, and Astros, and was an All-Star with St. Louis in 2014. In 11 big league seasons, including this year, Neshek is 30-21 with a 2.79 ERA, eight saves, and 414 strikeouts in 418 innings of work.