We know what he’s been, but now the question is: How will Neris be used by the Astros?
Neris relies on a nifty split-finger, four-seam fastball and sinker combination. The righty likes to get ahead of the count with his 94-mph fastball then generate punch outs with swing and miss with his split finger.
Frankly, he has a similar repertoire to Ryan Stanek, although Stanek has more velocity on his fastball and uses that pitch 56 percent of the time. Neris has a more balanced attack, deploying both his split-finger and four-seamer at around a 40 percent usage rate.
Neris has a solid eight-year sample size of performance that shows you his strengths and his warts. First of all, Neris is much better against righties (.206 OBA, .646 OPS) than he is against lefties (.232 OBA, .720 OPS ).
This is significant considering the Astros play at Minute Maid Park which favors right-handed hitters, and the plethora of really good righty-power hitters the Astros will face in the American League West — Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien to name a few.
Neris has some other splits that offer encouragement. For instance, Neris pitches much better in the second half of the season.
The righty has rated in the bottom third percentile in defensive OPS during the first half of the season, but then consistently in the top-20 percentile in defensive OPS during the second half of a season.
Teams that win in playoffs have shown improve pitching late in the season, and this guy follows that trend year in and year out.
Neris also has a track record of performing better in high leverage situations. While pitching for Phillies, Neris generated a .196 opponent batting average with a .641 OPS in save and high-leverage situations – that’s better than top relievers like Kenley Jensen and Amir Garrett and slightly behind Hendriks.
How does he do against the best hitters? Well, not as good as you’d like.
Neris gives up a .239 batting average with a .729 OPS against opponents’ two through five hitters. A lot of his success stats comes from mowing down the back of the lineup hitters – he’s a career .187 OBA and.621 OPS against six, seven, eight and nine-hole hitters.
Now, we got a narrative on Neris; he’s a 32-year-old experienced reliever with no signs of velocity dropping. He’s got an effective split finger, four-seam fastball combo and gets a ton of swing-and-miss, especially against righties.
He tends to rise to the occasion in high level situations – however he’s around average and struggles when going up against the better hitters in the league.