The Phillies added two veteran relief pitchers to their bullpen in Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek. What fantasy value do they have in 2018?
The Philadelphia Phillies may be the second-best team in the National League East. The Marlins are in a fire sale, the Mets and Braves have been surprisingly quiet and the Nationals are a pretty complete team already. The Phillies added two veteran arms to their bullpen in Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek. Do they have any fantasy value in 2018?
The Phillies already have Hector Neris as their closer but it doesn’t hurt to have a few good arms for relief. Just look at the Dodgers, Astros and Yankees, all playoff teams. While the Phillies are a long way away from contending for a World Series, the front office is taking steps in the right direction.
Hunter spent 2017 with the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched in 58.2 innings, posting a 2.61 ERA, 0.972 WHIP, 9.8 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. His home run rate was a little high, 0.9, for the limited innings he pitched. Though, striking out over a batter per inning is what everyone wants from a middle reliever.
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He had a couple of bad seasons with ERAs over 4.00 but has settled down and gained control over the last two seasons. Last year was his best season to date and I think he will fit in nicely in Philadelphia.
Neshek has been in the league since 2006, pitching for seven different teams including the Phillies. He was traded to the Rockies at the trade deadline last season. In 62.1 combined innings between the two teams, Neshek posted a 1.59 ERA, 0.866 WHIP, 10.0 K/9 and 0.9 BB/9.
In 11 seasons, Neshek has a career 2.75 ERA and 1.021 WHIP. Like Hunter, he had a couple of bad seasons but has averaged a 2.50 ERA over his last six seasons. He also has two All-Star game appearances.
Neither reliever pitcher has much closer experience. Hunter has 17 career saves while Neshek has eight. Though, if Neris should go down, I could see the Phillies using a committee in the ninth inning.
If you decide to draft Neris this season, I think you should pair him with Neshek later in the draft. Neshek is familiar with the NL East as he pitched for the Phillies for the first half of 2017. Hunter could surprise, too, as he leaves the American League East.
Both relievers will have value in deep or NL-only leagues. With holds becoming a popular category to deepen the player pool, and their ability to strike out opposing batters, Hunter and Neshek will be worth drafting. And, with the number of injuries we saw last year, one or both could be in line for saves at some point.