Clay Buchholz

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Pat Neshek says going to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years”

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36-year-old Pat Neshek is having the best season of his career, owning a 0.82 ERA with a 21/4 K/BB ratio in 22 innings for the Phillies. Manager Pete Mackanin has even entrusted the right-hander in a save situation recently and planned to do so again on Wednesday if the Phillies happened to hold a ninth-inning lead. The only problem is that the Phillies, at 21-36, are currently baseball’s worst team, so Neshek’s contributions almost certainly won’t help his team win a championship.

Still, Neshek says the offseason trade that sent him from the Astros — currently baseball’s best team at 42-18 — to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years,” CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports.

Neshek explained why he became frustrated with his role with the Astros last season.

I kind of became a bit player there. In ’15, I did a lot of eighth-inning stuff and I think I was second or third in the league in holds, but I had a bad final month where they kind of just gave up on me. In ’16, I just became a sixth-inning righty specialist guy and it was awful. I knew I could do a lot more. So when the trade (to the Phillies) happened I was thrilled. This was the best thing that happened to me in a few years.

I can understand why (the Astros) did it. They have a bullpen that’s pretty well-stocked over there. So I’m real happy to be out — if not I would rather have been a free agent than gone back there, which may sound crazy but it gets to the point where you just want to do more. I would almost rather retire than do a role like I was doing for them. It was miserable.

Though Neshek is quite content with the Phillies and would like to stick around, he realizes that the team is certain to shop him as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. When asked if he expects to be traded, Neshek said, “I would say yes. It would be really cool to stay around here. I like it here. I feel very comfortable here.”

Stranger things have happened. The rebuilding Phillies were mostly inactive last summer, as new GM Matt Klentak chose to hold onto veteran starter Jeremy Hellickson and reliever David Hernandez. The only summer trade made last year involved catcher Carlos Ruiz going to the Dodgers near the end of August. This year, most of the Phillies’ veteran additions have failed to work out, as Clay Buchholz, Joaquin Benoit, and Howie Kendrick suffered injuries and Michael Saunders has floundered. Hellickson has also struggled, leaving Neshek as the Phillies’ lone attractive trade chip.