Despite excellent performances from Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly, the first-place Red Sox could use an upgrade to the back end of their bullpen. The BoSox have received inconsistent performances from Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree, and it’s probably the correct move to get those two out of the seventh and eighth innings of tight games as often as possible in favor of a more consistent option. Enter lone Phillies All-Star Pat Neshek.
Neshek has pitched to a sterling 1.27 ERA that’s well backed up by a 2.27 FIP, 9.2 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9. In fact, before his outing on July 1st in which he gave up three earned runs in less than an inning of work, Neshek’s ERA was a ridiculous 0.57. Despite that blow-up outing, Neshek put any concern to rest with four straight scoreless innings, including one in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Contrary to most submariners, Neshek has a good amount of velocity, averaging 90.3 MPH on his sinker this season. He’s fooled hitters with a slow changeup averaging only 68 MPH, obviously an incredibly hard pitch to make solid contact with coming off of that fastball.
Historically, Neshek has struggled a bit against lefties in his career, but not this season, as he’s held them to a .543 OPS, right in line with the .539 OPS he’s allowed to same-sided hitters. This development makes him more than a righty-neutralizer and should make him a trusted arm on whatever team he ends up on, whether it’s the Red Sox or someone else.