Just 5’9″ and 176 lbs, Nehf joined the Braves late in 1915 after leading the Central League with 218 strikeouts and a 1.38 ERA. The crafty southpaw went 17-8 in 1917 and in 1918 topped the National League in complete games. He pitched a 21-inning game that season against the Pirates, only to lose 2-0. He had compiled a 52-41 record for the light-hitting Braves when, on August 15, 1919, he was traded to the Giants for four players and cash. He went 9-2 the rest of the way, but the Giants still couldn’t catch the Reds and finished second.
In 1920, Nehf won a career-high 21 games. From 1921 through 1924 he helped the Giants to four consecutive pennants. Following a 20-10 season in 1921, he lost his first two World Series starts (the Giants scored a mere one run – unearned – in those games), but defeated the Yankees 1-0 in the final game. In the 1922 WS rematch, Nehf again won the decisive contest. He pitched another 1-0 shutout against the Yankees in Game Three of the 1923 Series. In the 1924 Series opener, he beat the Senators Walter Johnson in 12 innings, but Nehf lost Game Six 2-1. Washington took the title the following day.
Nehf won 107 while losing only 60 in seven years with the Giants. Sold to the Reds in 1926, he pitched infrequently, and he was released in August 1927. He rebounded with 13 wins for the Cubs in 1928. His last major league appearance came with Chicago in Game Four of the 1929 World Series, when he failed to retire a batter.
During his 15 ML seasons, Nehf recorded 30 shutouts. He participated in 12 double plays in 1920, equaling the NL record for a pitcher. In 12 World Series games, he placed himself among the all-time WS leaders in seven pitching categories. A competent, lifetime .210 batter, he hit five home runs in 1924, including two in one game.