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2019 Phillies review: Pat Neshek

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Who?

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers:

20 G, 18 IP, 11.4 K%, 2.5 BB%, 5.00 ERA (6.16 FIP), -0.3 fWAR

The good:

Man, I just don’t know. I truly don’t know what was good about Neshek’s season. He was among those that were cursed/snakebitten/etc. in the bullpen that just could not manage to stay healthy. Even when he was healthy, he wasn’t the Neshek that the team was used to in 2017, when he essentially owned anyone he faced when on the mound. I can’t think of a single Neshek moment from this past season...

The bad:

...but boy is this injury thing starting to get old. Fast.

2019 marks the second season in a row that Neshek has failed to throw at least 25 innings for the Phillies after signing a pretty decent contract after the 2017 season (2/$16.25M). Even when he was on the mound this year, according to the numbers, he wasn’t that good.

  • though he’s not known as a strikeout pitcher, his strikeout rate was the lowest it’s ever been.
  • his home run rate was the highest ever.
  • his hard hit ball rate was also the highest it’s ever been.
  • his fastball velocity dropped for the third year in a row (though the shoulder woes could have had something to do with that).

It just wasn’t that good of a year.

We all know that Neshek isn’t a guy that wants to go more than an inning at a time and refuses to pitch on back-to-back days. Personally, with a guy like him that will get torched by left handed hitters if he’s allowed to exert himself, it’s not that bad an idea to limit his appearances. However, when he got hurt, it really hurt the bullpen that was already struggling at the time.

It’s clear that the investment in his services is a sunk cost. Many of our media magnates in the city would prefer he change his name to something else.

The game being referenced above was a walk off loss to the Cubs in which Neshek was not used in the ninth inning because he pitched the night before....no....the night before that. Which is the main reason many fans have turned on him. Anyone not able and/or willing to pitch in back to back games will not be treated well in Philadelphia. Now, he did go on the injured list a few days after that, an injury from he which he would not return for month. But when he did come back, he got hurt again and missed the remainder of the season.

The biggest issue is what to do now?

The future:

This is where I just don’t know which direction the team should go. He has a $7 million club option for 2020, a cost that isn’t prohibitive at all for a franchise that needs as many arms as possible for the season.

However, on the one hand, this makes two seasons in a row Neshek has been a) ineffective, and b) injured for a large portion of the season. Spending that amount of money on a player that cannot be relied upon to be healthy and willing to go to bat for the team screams of ineffective cost allocation.

On the other hand, 2017 is an enticing carrot to dangle in front of an upper management that needs to fix the bullpen. When he was healthy, he was good. He has a track record of being an effective reliever and $7 million just isn’t that much to spend if the team decides to do that. Plus, it seems like he was one of the players happiest to see Gabe Kapler let go.

Ultimately, if Neshek is brought back, there is no chance it’s on the $7 million option the team holds. It would make more sense to give him his $250,000 buyout and try to re-sign him at a lower deal. That way, should he get hurt, they can simply release him rather than have to deal with his antics.