The Colorado Rockies have been strong all season, are currently 58-44, and just a game back of their NL West rivals the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL Wild Card race.
Unfortunately for both Colorado and Arizona, it appears they will be forced to settle for a Wild Card spot with the Los Angeles Dodgers leading the NL West by 12 games, and one of the teams may end up without a playoff spot as the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are currently tied for first place in the NL Central.
There’s plenty of time for the postseason situation to play out, but there isn’t much time left for teams to get the players that they need in order to make sure they have their best team on the field to make that last postseason push. The MLB non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 is creeping ever closer.
The Rockies look great on paper and on the field, with players such as National League MVP candidate third baseman Nolan Arenado and first baseman Mark Reynolds leading the way on both offense and defense and Tyler Chatwood and Kyle Freeland providing a one-two punch at the top of the Rockies’ starting rotation.
They even have former Kansas City Royals closer Greg Holland to close out games. He may be fresh off of missing all of 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the three-time All-Star is currently sporting a 2.2 WAR, a 1.72 ERA, and a 1.06 WHIP. He’s also leading the National League in saves with 31 and just one blown save all season.
What more could they possibly need? Even with Holland, the Rockies could use a bit of bullpen help.
How could that be with Holland having such a great year? Well, the rest of the bullpen hasn’t been too sharp lately. Players like Jordan Lyles, Adam Ottavino, and Scott Oberg are all sporting ERAs over 5.00.
Wednesday afternoon the Rockies made it known that they were definitely going for a postseason berth when they acquired one of the best relievers on the trade market in the Philadelphia Phillies’ set-up man and sidearm thrower, Pat Neshek. In exchange, the Rockies sent the Phillies three prospects: Jose Gomez, J.D. Hammer, and Alejandro Requena.
The trade makes sense as the Phillies are trying to rebuild and get younger, while the Rockies are looking towards October.
Neshek is a two-time All-Star currently posting a 1.12 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP, and a 2.1 WAR over 40.1 innings pitched in 2017. He’s even averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings this season.
The 11-year MLB veteran was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the sixth round of the 2002 MLB amateur draft and has played in the big leagues with the Twins, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and half of this season with the Phillies.
His career numbers are just as good as his numbers this season and in his other All-Star season with the Cardinals. He has a career record of 31-21, an ERA of 2.76, a 1.02 WHIP, and an overall 9.6 career WAR.
There likely isn’t a better candidate to help the Rockies with their recent bullpen woes. While everyone knows it is tough to pitch in the high altitude in Denver, Neshek would really have to take a major dive to mess up his current stats.
The side-armed right-hander has an odd delivery that begins like a submarine pitcher’s, but finishes like that of a sidearmer.
Neshek was a pitcher in high school with an over the shoulder, more conventional delivery. However, he was struck in the forearm with a baseball, and while recovering from the injury he threw sidearm and also played shortstop.
Once the injury had healed, he wasn’t able to go back to his old conventional delivery. Neshek’s release is more explosive than other sidearm pitchers, and as a result he can throw harder than most of his peers with similar deliveries.
Prior to his Tommy John surgery in 2007, Neshek’s sinking fastball could hit 96 MPH. Even now it sits around 91-92 MPH. His pitches are especially deceiving to right handers who have trouble following the pitch’s path due to his “special” delivery.
It remains to be seen if the Rockies will make any other moves before the trade deadline, but they now have a proven All-Star closer and a proven All-Star set-up man to get them through the late innings and, they hope, into October.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]