Paul Wall was not talking about Pat Neshek when he rapped, “Sittin sidewayz / Boys in a daze” in 2005. Wall was talking about cars that had candy paint jobs and hydraulic lift kits, and how those cars that had candy paint jobs and hydraulic lift kits often left others feeling flustered.
The Houston rapper’s hit single could’ve applied to Neshek, the veteran reliever the Rockies acquired for three prospects in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, however.
Just look at the way Neshek delivers the baseball.
The 36-year-old sidearmer releases the baseball from all over the place. As Daren Willman pointed out, Neshek will throw it anywhere from 4 to 6 feet off the ground.
With a sinking fastball that averages 94 mph and a slider that usually travels around 84 mph, Neshek isn’t overpowering opponents. Instead, he confuses batters with funky arm angles and pitches that never sail straight.
Neshek, who figures to be the right-handed setup man the Rockies charge with entering games and passing leads over to Greg Holland, is having one of the best seasons of his 11-year career. He’s allowed just five earned runs in 40 1/3 innings and struck out nine times as many batters (45) as he’s walked (five).
His success this year is largely due to elite command. Neshek’s 3.4 percent walk rate is the fourth-best mark among all relievers in baseball. His control should be welcome in a Rockies bullpen that is collectively posting a 9.5 percent walk rate.
“It’s exciting,” Neshek said Wednesday. “You jump right into a playoff race. That’s a great team with a great offense.”
Neshek has plenty of playoff experience. He has a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings of postseason play. He’s been to the playoffs four times with four different teams. Neshek will make his fifth postseason trip with his fifth team if the Rockies can hold onto a four-game lead in the NL Wild Card race.
FanGraphs is still giving Colorado a 62.8 percent chance of making the playoffs, despite its recent struggles. Adding a proven arm like Neshek’s to the bullpen certainly tilts those odds in the right direction.
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