We’ve covered potential trade deadline targets pretty well here at Dodgers Digest. With a week to go, we’re winding down the series. Next up is Pat Neshek, who is having a surprisingly great season for the Phillies.
- J.D. Martinez/Justin Wilson (July 13)
- Sonny Gray/Sean Doolittle (July 14)
- Chris Archer (July 15)
- Zach Britton/Brad Brach (July 17)
- Yu Darvish (July 18)
- Brad Hand (July 19)
- Addison Reed/Jerry Blevins (July 22)
First, the link between Neshek and the Dodgers:
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 23, 2017
This isn’t surprising because the Dodgers had interest in Neshek when he was a free agent three winters ago.
It was the Dodgers, Pat Neshek said, that actually offered him the most money, although that’s before state income tax consideration.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 10, 2014
The original deal he signed with Houston was for $12.5 million over two years with a $6.5 million option that made it a 3-year, nearly $20 million pact.
Neshek, 36, is having a career-best season in his first season with the Phillies. He has a 1.14 ERA, 2.01 FIP and a 29.7 K% — second-best of his career. He also has an incredible strand rate of 92.7 percent — 5th-best among qualified relievers.
These numbers might lead you to believe he’s a hard-throwing reliever with filthy stuff. Well, he has good stuff, but he doesn’t throw especially hard. His fastball tops out in the low-90s, but he averages about 90 MPH for his career. He also throws a low-80s slider that he throws almost half the time. For this career, he’s been more of a slider-first pitcher, but this season, he’s favoring the fastball just slightly. FanGraphs rates his slider as being 9.7 runs above average, good for 3rd-best behind Andrew Miller and Greg Holland.
The reason Neshek can get away with the lower velocity because he’s a true sidearm pitcher. But unlike guys like Brad Ziegler and, to a lesser extent, Darren O’Day, Neshek isn’t a ground ball machine. He actually has just a 36.3 GB% this season, which is actually up from his career rate of 33 percent. Luckily for him, he isn’t allowing many home runs (two) on his fly balls (46.2 percent), and he’s also getting the highest swinging strike rate on his pitches (13.2 percent) since his rookie season (18.4!).
If acquired, he’d play the role the recently traded Sergio Romo was supposed to play. The difference is, Neshek can actually get left-handed hitters out with some regularity, as lefties are hitting just .182/.228/.321 against him this season. For his career, the triple slash is .225/.305/.419, so he’s not just a right-handed one out guy. I’m not saying I’d leave him in to face Bryce Harper, but he’s not unusable against lefties, either.
Neshek is in the last year of his deal, is on the wrong side of the 35 and, despite having a career-year, shouldn’t cost a ton. The Dodgers and Phillies made a deal in the offseason (Howie Kendrick to Philly for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney), so there is some history between the two front offices.
The Phillies get two quality bullpen arms that are close to the majors in Barlow and Rhame. Both are flawed in one way or another, but both also have the talent to be MLB relievers.
Sborz is currently struggling as a starter in Double-A, but he has been better over his last seven starts (2.45 ERA). Still, a move to the bullpen has been in the cards for a while, and he could quickly turn into a solid MLB reliever. Hansen is a former 2nd-round pick who hasn’t gotten on track yet in this organization, but he still has talent and could benefit from a change of scenery.
This isn’t a sexy trade acquisition by any means, but if the Dodgers can’t land Addison Reed or fail in their attempts to land one of the rumored lefty relievers, Neshek might be a nice Plan B or C.