Twins 2007 Bright Spots: Number 5

In number five of the TwinCitiesDugout.com top Major League stories, we look at the breakout season for relief pitcher Patrick Neshek. The young sidewinder established himself as a top late innings guy for the Twins in 2007, and could be the next closer for the Twins. Here is a look at what he did last year, and what he has done in his career.

During the 2006 season, Pat Neshek established himself as arguably the best relief pitcher in the International League. The sidewinding right-hander was dominant as the Rochester Red Wings closer last season, finishing off 23 games, while notching 14 saves. In total, Neshek posted an earned run average under 2.00, and would get his first taste of Major League Baseball as a 25-year old.

A fan favorite in every city he has played in, Neshek was just as dominant for the Minnesota Twins after he was promoted to the big league club last season. Giving the opposition something they don't normally see, Neshek helped the Twins make their incredible run to the post-season, posting a 2.19 earned run average in 32 appearances.

In total, Neshek struck out 53 batters in only 37.0 innings of work, though he did get hit hard in the post-season. The end result was him establishing himself as a Major League relief pitcher, and he had no problem making the Opening Day roster out of Spring Training.

After posting a 3.72 earned run average in Spring Training, Neshek became a late innings guy for the Twins this past season. With a good amount of time in the Big Leagues in his back pocket, Neshek got off to a hot start for the Twins, and many believed he could have made the All-Star Game.

Neshek would not make the Midsummer Classic, but he did leave his mark in his first full season of Major League Baseball. The righty appeared in 74 games for the Twins, and although he had some rough patches late in the season, he did finish with a very good 2.94 earned run average. He won seven games, lost only two, and struck out better than a batter per inning.

The future is very bright for Neshek, as he and Joe Nathan have solidified the late innings of the Twins bullpen. Neshek is a great eighth innings guy, and he really improved against left-handed batters this past season. If Nathan requires too much money down the road, Neshek could be a logical replacement as the Twins closer.

In his minor league career, Neshek posted a 2.17 earned run average, and has a Major League earned run average of 2.57. He has struck out better than a batter per inning in his Major League career, and will only get better as he gets older and logs more innings.


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