Saturday, July 8, 2006
The Neshek Debut
Good morning! (it's not up yet, but be sure to check out the Minnesota Twins Fan Network today to hear my interview. it was recorded on Wednesday night.)
I rarely write on Friday nights, but the major league debut of Pat Neshek made it worth writing a few words. As you all know, Neshek was recalled on Thursday and flew to Texas to meet the team. Now, Carlos Silva got shelled last night and left with a knee injury in the 2nd inning. Willie Eyre came in and got crushed. So, it was really just a matter of time before Neshek made his debut. Kyle Lohse went 3.2 innings. But with the Twins down 9-4 going into the bottom of the 7th, Neshek came in to make his debut.
Now, you never know quite what you're going to get in a big league debut. No matter how much Neshek dominated in AAA, nerves, anxiety and adrenaline all had to be working on him. Would he use it to his advantage or would it work against him?
Well, before we discuss the actual debut, let's mention a couple of other things. Dick Bremer informed us that Pat's family was able to be at Ameriquest Field for the game last night. That is terrific! Can you even imagine the excitement and the absolute pride that Pat's parents must feel?! The should be very proud! Secondly, Bert Blyleven told us that Neshek became the first player in Twins history to wear the number 72! I don't think that really means anything, but it is kind of interesting. Finally, we were told that he had a locker next to Francisco Liriano. Again, not really a big deal, but just some insider, fun information. Oh, and that Liriano wears number 47, the number that Neshek wore in the minor leagues. I think Liriano will be able to keep it, although since Neshek is older... ah, it really doesn't matter!
Anyway, back to the debut. As I am wont to do, I like to 'scout' pitches of guys that I haven't seen much of. I saw Pat pitch in a game or two in spring training on TV, but that's it. So, I wanted to get a feel for what Neshek throws and what his pitches do. So, here are all 27 pitches that Neshek threw:
Kevin Mench was the first batter that he faced. The first pitch was a fastball at 89 mph for a called strike. His second pitch was a fastball at 92. It was a ball outside. On 1-1, he threw a slider at 83 for a swinging strike. On 1-2, he threw a fastball at 87. It was a ball high. On 2-2, an 85 mph slider was singled into center field.
That brought up Brad Wilkerson, a lefty with some power. The first pitch was an 89 mph fastball up high for a ball. Neshek hit the outside corner on a 91 mph fastball to even the count at one. He then threw two straight 89 mph fastballs off of the outside corner. On 3-1, an 87 mph fastball caused Wilkerson to fly out for the first out of the inning.
Rod Barajas came up and too an 83 mph slider at the knees. On 0-1, he threw an 89 mph fastball on the outside corner. On 0-2, Barajas fouled off a 91 mph fastball, then an 85 mph slider. On his third 0-2 pitch, Barajas flew out to right centerfield on an 86 mph slider.
That brought up Gary Matthews Jr with two outs. (Don't forget what Matthews did in Francisco Liriano's big league debut!) The first pitch was a 91 mph fastball at the knees on the outside corner for strike one. The next pitch was an 85 mph slider that was pulled foul. On 0-2, Matthews grounded out to 2B on an 87 mph fastball.
First inning of Neshek's career. No runs on one hit. There were no errors and one runner left on base. Neshek threw 18 pitches. 13 went for strikes including each of his last nine pitches of the inning. He threw 12 fastballs and six sliders. The fastballs averaged 89.25 mph with a high listed at 92. The sliders came in at an average of 84.5 mph with a high of 86 mph.
In the bottom of the 8th, the first batter was Mark DeRosa. He started him off with an 82 mph slider and got a strike. On 0-1, an 89 mph was also a strike. On 0-2, he missed with a 90 mph fastball up and away. On 1-2, he missed a little low with an 87 mph fastball. Finally, on 2-2, Neshek recorded his first strikeout with an 86 mph slider.
Michael Young popped up to SS on the first pitch, an 89 mph fastball.
Mark Teixeira came to bat hitting left-handed. The first pitch was a called strike, a 93 mph fastball. The next pitch was also a called strike on a 92 mph fastball. On 0-2, Neshek threw a slider at 87 and Teixeira flew out to right field.
Second inning of Neshek's career. No runs. No hits. No Errors. None left on base. He threw just nine pitches and seven of them were strikes. He threw six fastballs and three slider. The fastballs averaged 90 mph. The sliders averaged 85 mph.
Overall summary - Neshek did look a little nervous or excited on the mound, but can you really blame him. He looked a little rushed on his delivery, but I actually think that his pitching style is better with that look. The herky-jerky delivery throws hitters off. It makes it difficult for them to see the ball released. It also makes it pretty difficult to distinguish between the fastball and slider. I question the radar gun thinking it is probably the slow gun. That really doesn't matter because if Neshek can stay at or around 90 mph with the amount of movement his fastball gets will be very good. He faced three lefties and got all three out!
I know it is just one outing , but we can see a few things. He kept the ball up in the strike zone his first inning, and he was hit a little bit. There were several fairly deep fly balls. But in that second inning, he kept his pitches down. Again, with the sinking action of his fastball, he needs to keep the ball down. Right now, he has two very strong pitches. That is good enough to be a very good reliever.
If nothing else, this was a great start to Neshek's career. I think that he has the potential to stick with the team throughout the season, and it may not be long before he is thrust into some more high leverage situations. But before we jump into anything, let's let him get a few more outings under his belt. Let's see how he does when he is able to relax a little more. But also, let's see him when he hasn't throw three innings just two days earlier.
Congratulations again to Pat and his family! Great debut!
If you have any questions or Comments about the Neshek debut, please feel free to e-mail me or leave some Comments here. I know Neshek checks out the site, so congratulate him yourself below! Thanks and have a great rest of the weekend!|
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