Remembering Recent Non-Roster Invitees Who Have Made the St. Louis Cardinals’ Opening Day Roster

Scott Rovak- USA TODAY Sports
Scott Rovak- USA TODAY Sports /
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St. Louis Cardinals Pat Neshek
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports /

Pat Neshek, RP, 2014

Though he spent just one year with the Cardinals, Pat Neshek’s 2012 season was perhaps the best ever for a Cards non-roster invitee (and for that matter, one of the best in MLB history for a player who began the year as a NRI). Neshek, a sidearming righthander with deceptive mechanics, had a couple dominant seasons in the early part of his career with the Minnesota Twins, and he had another great year in 2012 with the Oakland Athletics. But Neshek, who dealt with the death of his infant son in October of 2012, had a down season in 2013 and was available as a minor-league free agent for 2014. He signed a minor-league deal with the Cardinals on February 6, and even though he left camp for a while to be with his wife following complications with the birth of their second child, he still managed to make the Cardinals’ roster when camp broke.

The Cardinals were rewarded for their patience with Neshek, as he put together an absolutely dominant first half. In 38.1 innings spanning 43 appearances, Neshek put up a 0.70 ERA and 0.574 WHIP, striking out 37 and walking five while holding hitters to a ridiculous .131 opponent batting average. As a result, Neshek made his first All-Star team in July.

He fell off a bit in the second half, but he still managed to finish with a 7-2 record, a 1.87 ERA, a 0.787 WHIP, and a .183 opponent batting average while striking out 68 and walking nine in 67.1 innings. Neshek was rewarded for his superior efforts following the 2014 season, as he signed a two-year, $12.5 million-dollar deal with the Houston Astros.

Next: Carlos Villanueva