Pat Neshek became something of a sensation during the 2006 season. Neshek’s sidearm delivery sparked the allure, but his ability to retire right-handed batters in an efficient manner made him more than a novelty act: it made him into a viable big league reliever with tangible value. Through this point in Neshek’s career, he has a 3.05 ERA and 2.82 SIERA, thus contributing a little over three Wins Above Replacement Player despite only tossing about 130 innings.
After missing most of 2008 and all of 2009 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Neshek suffered from a variety of injuries in 2010, including a sore hamstring and inflammation in his throwing hand. Neshek only found his way into 11 big league games in 2010, instead spending most of his time in Triple-A Rochester. As such, Neshek has not seen significant action in the major leagues since 2007.
That could be changing soon, though, as the Padres claimed everyone’s favorite vegetarian sidearmer on waivers over the weekend. Health is an ever important, yet unpredictable aspect of a pitcher’s season –although, some are trying their damnedest to change that— and Neshek is no different. The Padres gutted their bullpen depth over the winter in a pair of trades, so Neshek should find a job in the majors at some point this season if he can stay healthy.
Placing Neshek within PETCO Park is as unnecessary as giving Superman a jetpack. He’s already a nuisance to righties, holding them to a career mark of .176/.242/.301. Neshek is often bestowed with the ROOGY label and while he’s not as good against lefties, he’s fared decently (.211/.297/.404). The delivery and a rough start to his career (four homers in his first 50 plate appearances against southpaws –he has allowed four in the 144 since) contribute to the thought, but he can probably manage against weaker lefties in medium-leveraged situations without killing a team.
All told, Neshek appears to be a worthwhile gamble for the Padres at the price of a 40-man roster spot, a waiver claim ($200,000), and salary ($625,000).