Bill Steicher/USA Today Sports

Red Sox keeping an eye on Pat Neshek market

Rob Bradford
July 11, 2017 - 1:21 pm

According to major league sources, the Red Sox have some keen interest in Pat Neshek. That shouldn't come as a surprise.

Of the two areas that this team might be looking for help at heading into the non-waiver trade deadline, late-inning reliever would almost certainly fit one of the categories. That's where Neshek comes in.

The National League All-Star is 36 years old and is having one of his best seasons, hitting the All-Star break with a 1.27 ERA in 37 outings for the Phillies. Neshek has struck out 36 and walked just five, primarily pitching in the seventh and eighth innings.

"I’ve been dealing with it since the first day I got traded to Philly," Neshek told Philly.com during Monday's media availability in Miami. "It’s not like it wasn’t expected. It would be nice for me one year to just stay somewhere three years. I’d go nuts."

While the potential move would offer similarities to Dave Dombrowski's trade of Brad Ziegler a year ago -- with one common thread being both are side-winders -- this isn't exactly an apples to apples situation. 

Neshek is less of a specialist than Ziegler was viewed as by the Red Sox, getting both left-handed (.188 batting average against) and right-handed (.234) batters out at a very similar rate. And despite the similar arm angles, the Philadelphia reliever isn't nearly as much of a ground ball pitcher as Ziegler represents, actually serving more as a fly ball/strikeout guy.

The righty, who is in the final year of a three-year, $18.5 million deal, will be one of the most coveted relievers on the market in the next few weeks, making the chances of getting Neshek at the bargain basement price they fell into with Ziegler highly unlikely. But if the price is right, the reliever would seemingly be a very good fit for these Red Sox.

This is a team that has the third-best bullpen ERA in baseball, but still would seem to need a bit more reliability when it came to the seventh and eighth innings. One of the options the Sox had been leaning on for these high-leverage situations, Robby Scott, has taken a turn for the worse of late, totaling a 13.50 ERA and 1.311 OPS against in July. And evey time Matt Barnes seems like he's figured it out, the righty hits a bump in the road.

Even the Red Sox most reliable reliever leading up to Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, offered an uncomfortable outing heading into the break when he look the loss after giving up his first home run of the season, Sunday.

Another bonus when it comes to Neshek's presence? He most likely won't be overwhelmed by big games if presented the opportunty, having pitched in five different playoff series with four teams, managing a 2.61 ERA in 13 outings.

"I’ve been in the playoffs seven different times so I know that I’d do well," Neshek told Philly.com. "I think everyone wants to get that adrenaline going. When I was with St. Louis, it was a letdown that they didn’t get to the World Series. That was the furthest that I’ve ever got and it was an off year for St. Louis. It was incredible. Every night you would go back out there and you’re sore, but you’re just going to battle. That’s what we all want to do. Win games."