In 2011, Pat Neshek was a disaster. In the Majors with the San Diego Padres, he walked 2 more batters than he struck out and gave up 1.46 HR/9IP despite Petco Park being his home ballpark. In the Minors, he threw 26.1 innings and predictably struggled with homers in the PCL (1.71 HR/9IP) and struck out just 11.5% of batters. In 2012, the Orioles picked up Neshek on a minor league contract and he pitched beautifully for the AAA team. He struck out 7 batters per every walk! Not only was his control better than it really ever had been, his swing and miss stuff was back as well (he struck out 27.5% of the batters he faced). However bullpen pitching was not what the Orioles needed and they eventually let him go and Neshek latched onto the Oakland Athletics. All the small sample size caveats obviously apply, but he has been solid for them, striking out 28% of hitters with a 77 FIP – in 13 appearances.
Neshek has added velocity this year, getting back to his career norms. This year, he is averaging 88.69 MPH on his fastball compared to a 88.77 MPH fastball since 2007. This is an uptick from 2010 (86.44) and 2011 (87.02).
One of the unique things about Neshek is obviously his arm angle, which provides a different look for hitters:
It is a delivery that could be upset very easily mechanically (When I saw him on Saturday night, he was wild), so it isn’t that surprising to see him have nice years and some really bad ones. This also means he is much more effective against righties than against lefties, but he has been pretty good statistically (although his K/BB ratio suffers quite a bit) against lefties in his career. To give you a comparison of just how unusual Neshek’s delivery is, here is Jake Arrieta’s (I mainly picked him because I was watching him while I was writing this part of the article) point of view, which is pretty standard looking: