30 Players in 30 Days: Pat Neshek
The side-armed throwing Pat Neshek joined the Houston Astros in December of 2015. Coming off of an All-Star season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Neshek signed a 2-year, $12.5 million dollar contract with the Astros that includes a 2017 team option.
In his 2014 season, Neshek appeared in 71 games with a 1.87 ERA, and a ridiculous 0.787 WHIP and 7.56 strikeout to walk ratio. Neshek’s first season with Houston was not as kind to him; in 66 games, he held a 3.62 ERA, 1.116 WHIP, 4.25 strikeout to walk ratio, and allowed twice as many home runs (8) as he did the previous season.
Neshek made his Houston Astros debut in the second game of the season on April 8 against the Cleveland Indians. He came on in the 8th inning with the team down one run and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced Mike Aviles. The home run ball bit Neshek early on as he allowed three in his first eight appearances.
After giving up a two-run home run to Marcus Semien on April 24, Neshek went through a run that showcased what Astros fans expected from the reliever. From his next appearance on April 27 through June 7, Neshek put up dominant numbers over his 17 games: 14 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, .091 AVG against and his ERA hit a season-low 2.08. Known for his control around the strike zone, Neshek did not walk a batter until June in his 25th game with the Astros.
From that point on, Neshek wasn’t necessarily bad – he just wasn’t great. He allowed 11 earned runs from the beginning of June through August in 33 games (3.45 ERA) and 28 2/3 innings pitched. September was the month – as it was for most of the Astros’ bullpen – when things went off the rails for Neshek.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
On Sept. 1, Neshek came on in the 8th inning of a tie ballgame against the Seattle Mariners and surrendered a two-run home run to Logan Morrison. The very next day, he was called on in the same situation against the Mariners and could only record one out on a fielder’s choice. He left with the bases loaded and had two unearned runs charged against him because of his own throwing error.
Neshek had three scoreless appearances in games where the Astros were well ahead or behind by a run. His next appearance was against Oakland, as he came on in the 8th with the Astros ahead 3-2, but once again allowed a two-run home run – this time to Danny Valencia. He appeared in five more games until the end of the season and allowed a run in two more appearances and one more blown lead.
Hitters hit .429/.500/.657 with a ridiculous .448 BAbip against Neshek from September. By the time the postseason rolled around, he had lost his role as the main set-up guy. Neshek appeared in only two games against the Royals, totaling one inning while striking out two.
More Houston Astros Season Recaps:
- Vince Velasquez
- Tony Sipp
- Jonathan Villar
- Preston Tucker
- Mike Fiers
- Hank Conger
- Chad Qualls
- Jon Singleton
- Joe Thatcher
- Marwin Gonzalez
- Josh Fields
- Jake Marisnick
What to expect in 2016
Neshek is making big money – he will likely be the highest paid reliever on the team in 2016 – but he will be 36-years-old by the start of next season. His collapse hurt the Astros down the stretch, and he was arguably not one of the team’s best four relievers in 2015.
It’s unrealistic to assume Neshek can return to his 2014 dominance at this point, but he can still put the ball on target anywhere in the strike zone. The big problem is that his ability to force weak contact from batters took a hit this past season. In 2014, 28% of fly balls hit against him stayed in the infield and that number dropped all the way to 10% in 2015 while line drives against him increased by 10%.