With the regular season starting March 29 against the Braves, the roster is nearly set. One player who should have a significant impact in the bullpen is Pat Neshek, who is in his second tour of duty with the Phillies.
The 37-year old Neshek enters his 12th Major League season. The veteran has played for eight different teams, having had success in nearly every stop along the way, including three seasons with an ERA under 2.00.
In his first time around with the Phillies just last season, Neshek appeared in 43 games, pitching to a slim 1.12 ERA, and earning an All-Star appearance. He allowed just 28 hits and five walks in 40 1/3 innings, while striking out 45. He finished the season in Colorado after being traded for multiple prospects, compiling a 2.45 ERA in 28 appearances.
Enjoying his time in Philadelphia and sensing something special in the works, Neshek returned in the off-season, signing a 2-year contract. A specialist called upon late in the game to get a tough right-handed batter out, Neshek is likely to find himself in a similar role this season.
Neshek will help get the ball to closer Hector Neris, who had 26 saves. However, there was some inconsistencies, losing five and posting a relatively mediocre ERA for a closer of 3.01. Because of the uncertainty of Neris, Neshek is a good back up option should Neris struggle.
It’s difficult to envision Neshek repeating last year’s performance. Having said that, he’s pitched to a career 2.75 ERA in 494 games, spanning 445 2/3 innings. Don’t look for any long outings, as he’s averaged less than an inning per appearance throughout his career. He’s been extremely good at keeping the ball in the park, allowing just a home run every 21 innings last season. That’s a big plus at hitter-friendly Citizen’s Bank Park.
An ERA between 2.50 and 3.00 is likely, making Neshek an invaluable part of the bullpen this season.