Pat Neshek an Underrated Piece in the Phillies Bullpen So Far This Season

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Apr 5, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Pat Neshek (17) against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Pat Neshek (17) against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pat Neshek has been making a name for himself in the struggling Phillies bullpen so far this season without receiving much fanfare.

Phillies relievers have struggled mightily this season. They have a collective 4.60 ERA and -0.7 fWAR, which is the third-worst among all teams in the league. In addition, they have given up 20 home runs, the most in baseball so far this year.

One player who has succeeded despite his counterparts is righty Pat Neshek. He is the only reliever on the roster who has yet to give up a run beside Mark Leiter, Jr. who has just one appearance.

Through his first ten outings, he has allowed just six hits and two walks. Meanwhile, his 0.92 WHIP and .188 batting average against are both among the team leaders.

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What’s more impressive about Neshek’s performance so far this season is the fact that he is done it against mostly lefties. Of the 34 batters he has faced, 19 were left-handed. Those lefties have a collective .158/.167/.222 line against Neshek.

In fact, Neshek has fared better against lefties compared to righties as the latter has a .231/.333/.231 line against Neshek.

However, as a sidearm pitcher, Neshek is often labeled as a righty specialist. He explained his confusion over it to Matt Gelb of Philly.com:

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"“It’s a label that gets used because righties are like .180 or .170 against me in my career,” said Neshek, 36. “When they see lefties are like .230 – oh, it’s such a big split. But .230 is better than the league average. I don’t know where it all comes from. But that’s a typical knock on submarine, sidearm guys.”"

If the bullpen as a whole continues to struggle but Neshek keeps shutting the opposition down, his role for the team may increase. In fact, that increased role may already be in the works. After Sunday’s loss, manager Pete Mackanin said he was considering using Neshek in the ninth as the team’s closer if they had the lead.

Next: Phils Farm System Report: Reading Hot to End April

Sidearm pitchers like Neshek aren’t often used as a closer, but if he keeps pitching the way he has, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.

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