Pat Neshek

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Pat Neshek
PatNeshek2014.jpg
St. Louis Cardinals – No. 41
Pitcher
Born: (1980-09-04) September 4, 1980 (age 33)
Madison, Wisconsin
Bats: Switch Throws: Right
MLB debut
July 7, 2006 for the Minnesota Twins
Career statistics
(through July 5, 2014)
Win–loss record 18–9
Earned run average 2.74
Strikeouts 251
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Patrick J. Neshek (born September 4, 1980) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Minnesota Twins selected him in the sixth round of the 2002 MLB draft from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Neshek made his MLB debut for the Twins on July 7, 2006, and played for them until 2010, except 2009, which he missed due to Tommy John surgery. Neshek has also played for the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics in eight total MLB seasons. He is signed with the Cardinals through the 2014 season.

Probably best known for an unorthodox pitching delivery, Neshek's arm motion slots about side-armed with an explosive release point, which developed after a baseball struck his forearm in high school. Right-handed batters have difficulty tracking the path of his pitches, resulting in a .181 batting average, .257 on-base percentage and a .315 slugging percentage against Neshek in 555 career plate appearances through 2013. He was selected to his first All-Star Game in 2014.

Early career[edit]

At Park Center Senior High School in Minnesota, he was named to the All-State team. At Butler University, he was a three-year letter winner and holds school records for strikeouts (SO) in a single game (18 vs. Detroit, April 15, 2001), strikeouts in a single season (118, 2001) and career strikeouts (280).

The Minnesota Twins originally selected Neshek in the 45th round (1337th overall) of the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft, but did not sign and went on to Butler. The Twins again later drafted him in the sixth round of the 2002 MLB Draft as the 182nd overall pick. He signed with the Twins that year, and was assigned to the Twins' rookie farm team. He then spent four years in the minor leagues, pitching 293 13 innings (IP) in 206 games with 367 SO, a 16–12 won–loss record (W–L) and an earned run average (ERA) of 2.18.[1] During the 2005 season, he led all minor league Twins players in saves.

Major League career (2006–present)[edit]

Minnesota Twins (2006–10)[edit]

Pat Neshek made his MLB debut on July 7, 2006, pitched two innings and allowed just one hit. On July 30, he earned his first major league career win against the Detroit Tigers after pitching one-third of an inning. Neshek appeared in 32 games in his rookie year, accumulating 37 IP, a 4–2 W–L, allowing six home runs (HR), but just 23 H and 53 SO. Those rates were 5.6 hits per nine innings allowed (H/9) and 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (K/9).

He began the 2007 season 2–0 and with a 2.25 ERA. In May, he gave up only six hits in 13 23 innings pitched, had eighteen strikeouts and posted a very impressive 0.66 ERA.[2] On July 1, 2007, he was chosen as one of five candidates for the final online fan vote for the All-Star game along with Jeremy Bonderman, Kelvim Escobar, Roy Halladay and Hideki Okajima. The spot went to Okajima despite a campaign by Twin fans and national sports blogs to "Pitch in for Pat".[3] Neshek finished third in voting.

Neshek suffered his first loss of the season against the New York Yankees on July 5, but then won three games in fourteen days improving his record to 6–1. He posted a 3.97 ERA during the month of July, losing his second game but winning his seventh game and bringing his season record to 7–2 but with a 5.06 ERA for the month. On September 20, the Twins shut him down for the season because of shoulder/elbow fatigue.[4] Neshek ended the season at 7–2, appearing in 74 games and pitching a total of 70 13 innings with a 2.94 ERA.[5] He was honored at the annual Twins' diamond ceremony with the 2007 Dick Siebert Award.[6]

In his first three appearances of 2008, Neshek allowed only one hit in 3 13 innings pitched with no earned runs, but then allowed seven earned runs in his next 10 innings. In May, he was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and missed the rest of the season. On November 11, 2008, it was announced that he would undergo ligament replacement surgery (more commonly known as Tommy John surgery) and miss the entire 2009 season. He underwent surgery one week later on November 18.[7]

He recovered to make the Twins' 2010 roster out of spring training. In 4 13 innings pitched, he had a 4.15 ERA with two runs and two hits allowed.[8] But he was put on the disabled list on April 15 soon after the start of the regular season[9] due to middle finger inflammation. But when he was re-examined, MRI revealed that the injury was not in fact in the middle finger but in the palm of his right hand. He angrily wrote about this not only on his website but also on Facebook, where he said he's "not happy with anything that has gone on, especially when it could have been taken care of three weeks ago and I was told the wrong info."

This raised Twin manager Ron Gardenhire's anger in that his young pitcher had publicly criticized the Twins' organization and their medical staff, but the matter was eventually settled, Neshek claiming "Gardy and I are on the same page" and vowing that once healthy he would be willing to pitch wherever the Twins assign him, calling the whole thing "a miscommunication."[10] After his time on the DL ran out he was optioned to Triple-A Rochester but recalled to the majors on September 6,[11] finishing 2010 0–1 and 5.00 with nine strikeouts and eight walks in nine innings.

San Diego Padres (2011)[edit]

Neshek was acquired off waivers on March 20, 2011 by the San Diego Padres.[12][13] He was designated for assignment on August 20 after recording a 4.01 ERA in 25 appearances for the Padres.[14] At season's end, he became a free agent.[15]

Baltimore Orioles organization (2012)[edit]

Neshek warming up for the A's.

On January 30, 2012, he signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles and was invited to spring training, but ultimately did not make the opening day roster and spent the next several months at Triple-A Norfolk Tides. For the week of June 25–July 1, he was named the International League's Pitcher of the Week. He notched three saves and eight SO in 4 13 IP, and had not surrendered a hit since May 29.[16] In his time at Norfolk, he amassed 11 saves and a 2.66 ERA in 35 relief appearances, with 49 SO in 44 IP, and walked just seven while giving up only one home run.[1]

Oakland Athletics (2012–13)[edit]

The Oakland Athletics traded for Neshek on August 3, 2012, for cash considerations, and immediately called him up from Triple-A Norfolk. To make room for Neshek on the roster along with same-day call-up right-handed pitcher Dan Straily, the A's optioned relievers Jim Miller and Evan Scribner to Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.[17]

On September 22, Neshek gave up the game-tying home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to New York Yankees slugger Raúl Ibañez. The A's had scored four runs in the top of the inning, leading to a galling 10–9 loss the next inning.[18] However, the A's defeated the Yankees the next day and went 9–2 to end the season, edging the Texas Rangers out of the American League West championship by one game, including sweeping the final three-game series in Oakland. In 24 games with the A's, Neshek tallied 19 23 IP, yielding 10 hits and six walks, with 16 SO and a 1.37 ERA. He relied heavily on the slider, throwing it 83.5 percent of all pitches.[19]

On November 30, 2012, Neshek avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal with the A's. He started the season well, posted a 2.34 ERA in his first 38 appearances into August, with 30 of them being scoreless. However, he gave up three runs apiece in two different appearances. Neshek attributed his early success to throwing almost exclusively sliders to right-handed hitters.[20] Of all his pitches, he threw the slider 73 percent of the time in 2013.[19]

The A's designated Neshek for assignment on August 26. For the season, he finished with a 3.35 ERA in 40 13 IP. He elected free agency November 5. Through the end of 2013, Neshek had faced 555 right-handed batters in his MLB career, holding them to a .181 batting average, .257 OBP and .315 SLG. In 326 PA, opposite-handed hitters, had more success with a .237 AVG, .328 OBP and .432 SLG.[21]

St. Louis Cardinals (2014–present)[edit]

Neshek pitching for St.Louis.

Neshek signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on February 6, 2014, with an invitation to spring training.[22] After the mixed performances of the previous two seasons and less-than-satisfying offers from other teams, he worked during the offseason specifically to target an increase in fastball velocity. This followed after the New York Mets commented to him they wanted to see increased velocity. It gradually surged, showing up to 92 miles per hour (148 km/h), up from a consistent 87–88 miles per hour (140–142 km/h) from the year before.[20] The Cardinals purchased Neshek's contract on March 30, thereby awarding him a spot on the 25-man MLB roster.[23]

Neshek was credited with his first win with the Cardinals when he pitched two scoreless innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 22.[24] He picked up his first career MLB save on June 4 against the Kansas City Royals.[25] During a 22-game span, he yielded no runs, covering 20 13 innings. Through June 9, he carried a 0.99 ERA and 0.62 WHIP, which led all National League relievers.[26] After working to target an increase his fastball velocity, his fastball average for the season as of June 30 was 90.1 miles per hour (145.0 km/h), the highest of his career. He also varied his mix of pitches more, throwing sliders for 38 percent of his total pitches.[19] Neshek made his first All-Star Game following a first half with a 0.77 ERA in 35 games, two saves and a 2–0 W–L record. Further, the game was held at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the home field of the Twins, with whom Neshek began his MLB career.[27][28]

Pitching style[edit]

Neshek has a very unorthodox style of delivery that could best be described as throwing side-arm. He developed it after being struck in the forearm with a ball in high school by C. J. Woodrow (a former Philadelphia Phillies farmhand). He then began to throw side arm and play shortstop due to his injury. When it healed, he could not change back to over the shoulder and his unique delivery stayed the way it is. He still has a lump in his forearm where he was struck.

The delivery has earned mention on SportsCenter as well as Baseball Tonight. Professional baseball scouts have had a divided opinion on the issue. Some were worried that this violent-looking delivery would lead to arm problems. Others considered the delivery to be an asset, as right-handed batters have a very difficult time seeing the ball. For example, Jose Marzan, his former manager with the Single-A Fort Myers Miracle believes that one of Neshek's greatest strengths is his ability to have enough strength to throw hard from such an angle, as his fastball used to top out around 96 mph (154 km/h) prior to his Tommy John surgery. Neshek has had great success in both the minor and major leagues as a reliever, averaging more than a strikeout per inning pitched.

After joining the Cardinals in 2014, Neshek's sinking fastball showed effectiveness well-above expectations through May 21. With a mean movement of 10.9 inches, it averaged more horizontal movement than any other pitch from any other reliever on the Cardinals staff, which was 1.3 inches more than Carlos Martínez' two-seam fastball. Martínez' own fastball has been heralded for its movement. Neshek's sinking fastball also averaged over 91 miles per hour (146 km/h) during that time, its highest velocity since 2007.[29] [30]

Personal life[edit]

Neshek has created his own website, which he runs entirely on his own. It is for his fans to interact and talk about collecting autographs. He has been known to auction off some of his game-used items in exchange for memorabilia. The site has over 7000 members. Neshek himself is also an avid autograph collector.[31]

Neshek is also a fan of the baseball sim Out of the Park Baseball, commenting in a tweet on August 12, 2012: "Spent the day off yesterday playing OOTP13 Baseball for most of the day. Talk about addicting."[32]

Neshek is married to Stephanee Neshek. Their first son, Gehrig John, was born on October 2, 2012, the day the A's won the AL West division title. However, he lived only 23 hours. The cause of the infant's death has not been made public.[33] The autopsy of the baby did not provide sufficient clarity about the cause of death, and there are now lawsuits pending. Their second son, Hoyt Robert Neshek, was born on March 13, 2014.[34] The Nesheks received a scare because Hoyt was born 11 days early with pneumonia and an air pocket outside his lungs. After remaining in intensive care for 10 days, he was released and his condition has improved to, and remained at, full health.[26]

Awards[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Pat Neshek minor league statistics & history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ ESPN – Pat Neshek Game Logs
  3. ^ Great The OTHER Japanese Red Sox Pitcher Won: Bad Day For Neshek
  4. ^ ESPN – Neshek might be ready to stop pitching this season
  5. ^ The Official Site of The Minnesota Twins: Team: Player Information
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ Analyst Alex (November 11, 2008). "A sad day: No Pat Neshek in 2009 for Twins". Bleacher Report. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  8. ^ Pat Neshek Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com
  9. ^ Neshek to have middle finger examined | twinsbaseball.com: News
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ Fantasy Baseball Breaking News – Rotoworld.com
  12. ^ http://twitter.com/#!/PatNeshek/status/49527294317953024
  13. ^ Padres claim reliever Pat Neshek off waivers | padres.com: News
  14. ^ Polishuk, Mark (August 20, 2011). "Padres designate Pat Neshek for assignment". MLBTradeRumors.com. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  15. ^ Axisa, Mike (October 1, 2011). "22 Triple-A players elect free agency". MLBTradeRumors.com. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  16. ^ IL News Release (July 2, 2012). "Starling Marte and Pat Neshek honored as International League Players of the Week". www.milb.com. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  17. ^ "A's trade for reliever Neshek". MLB.com. August 3, 2012. 
  18. ^ Rumberg, Howie (September 22, 2012). "A's lose stunner to Yankees after leading by 4". U-T San Diego. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c Halsted, Alex (June 30, 2014). "Neshek reinvents himself to get back to Majors". stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b McNeal, Stan (March 13, 2014). "Armed with a newly rediscovered fastball, Pat Neshek is turning heads in Jupiter". Fox Sports Midwest. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  21. ^ Todd, Jeff (February 7, 2014). "Cardinals to sign Pat Neshek". MLB Trade Rumors. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  22. ^ Associated Press (February 6, 2014). "Cardinals sign Pat Neshek to minor league deal". Miami Herald. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  23. ^ Staff Report (March 30, 2014). "Cardinals set 2014 Opening Day roster". MLB.com. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Cardinals 4, D-backs 2". MLB.com. May 22, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  25. ^ Alexander, Jackson (June 4, 2014). "Carpenter's fifth hit picks up Cards in extras". MLB.com. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b Nightengale, Bob (June 9, 2014). "For Pat Neshek, life goes on sweetly". USA Today. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  27. ^ Pointer, Michael (July 6, 2014). "Former Butler star Pat Neshek makes MLB All-Star roster". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  28. ^ Hagen, Pat (July 6, 2014). "All-Stars unveiled, including 26 first-timers". MLB.com. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  29. ^ Schwarz, Joe (May 21, 2014). "Pat Neshek has been a bulldog out of the bullpen for the St. Louis Cardinals". Viva El Birdos. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b Hagen, Pat (July 6, 2014). "All-Stars unveiled, including 26 first-timers". MLB.com. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  31. ^ On The Road With Pat Neshek
  32. ^ Twitter / PatNeshek: Spent the day off yesterday
  33. ^ Joseph, Adi (October 4, 2012). "Pat Neshek of the Athletics loses son 23 hours after birth". USA Today (Detroit Free Press). Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  34. ^ Hickey, John (March 19, 2013). "Oakland A's Pat Neshek: 'The devastation has never left me'". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 

External links[edit]