Minnesota Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger has the look of Pat Neshek on the mound. There is more than just arm angle that makes them similar.
On June 23rd against the Cleveland Indians, Trevor Hildenberger made his major league debut. His assignment was to pitch a solid 9th inning. If he did so, it would give the Minnesota Twins a 5-0 victory over their division rival.
The first batter Hildenberger faced was Roberto Perez. Perez was sent away as he would swing at and miss strike three. That strikeout set the stage for a solid debut for Hildenberger. Where in that ninth inning, he struck out Perez, allowed a hit, but most importantly did not allow any runs. His ninth inning secured the Twins’ victory.
Even though Hildenberger isn’t a flame thrower, his delivery and pitch movement helps him produce some swings and misses. His 10.6% swinging strike rate is a welcomed addition to the Twins’ bullpen. Hildenberger likely caught fans’ interest for another reason. His side arm delivery brings back memories of former Twin, and Minnesota native, Pat Neshek. Through Hildenberger’s first five innings, several similarities between the two relievers are beginning to emerge.
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On July 7, 2006, as a midseason call-up, Pat Neshek made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins. The Twins were entering that game ten games back of a playoff spot. That night the Twins lost the game to the Rangers, but Neshek saw two innings of work. In that outing he recorded one strikeout and allowed one hit. With Neshek on the roster the rest of the season, the 2006 Minnesota Twins went on to go 96-66 and win the AL Central.
Throughout Neshek’s career he has relied on his unique arm angle and a pitch repertoire of sinker, changeup, and slider. Hildenberger also employs a sinker, changeup, and slider. He then adds a four seam fastball to round out his repertoire. Both former Rochester Red Wing closers use their sinker and an off speed pitch to be effective relievers. Neshek pairs his sinker with a slider, while Hildenberger turns to his changeup most frequently.
Since his 2006 debut Neshek has gone on to have a successful career, and this season is already expected to be one of the most sought after arms at the trade deadline. The Twins’ bullpen can look to benefit from Hildenberger locking down his own role as they strive to stay relevant into July. His five scoreless innings in three appearances has already helped make his presence known. Maybe, just maybe, Hildenberger can help catapult the Twins into the playoffs, just as Neshek’s 2006 Twins did.