Oct 16, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Pat Neshek (37) throws against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning of game five of the 2014 NLCS playoff at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
#5 Relief Pitcher: Pat Neshek
Pat Neshek, elected to his first All Star game this past July, has not seen his career go according to plan. He had two very good seasons to begin his Major League career, posting a sub-3.00 ERA, and struck out 127 batters over his first 107 innings, all in relief. He then dealt with injuries and was not able to put together another really strong effort across a whole season until this past year. In February he signed a Minor League deal with the Cardinals, and after an offseason focusing on the improvement of his fastball velocity, was able to make the 25-man roster out of spring training.
The new and improved fastball would pay dividends for the 34-year old right-hander, as he became a nearly unhittable force for the Cardinals bullpen behind a 1.87 ERA. Neshek was not overly reliant on strikeouts, but this is no cause for concern as his 197 ERA+ and 2.37 FIP serve as great peripheral stats to supplement the resume he has built heading into this winter. Just like Zach Duke, Neshek looked like an entirely new pitcher this past season, and his numbers placed him among baseball’s best right-handed pitchers.
And he will be paid as such. Like the player that follows him on this list, Neshek will cash in this winter, and with a number of cheap young options I am not sure the Red Sox need to shell out for such a player, especially with their stockpile of right-handers.