The Mets pitching was surprisingly the team’s strength in 2010. Did it matter in the long run? Of course not, but with the majority of the starting pitching staff expected back in 2011, they certainly have something to build on.
Front and center in the resurgence was Jonathan Niese, who posted the following line in 2010:
148 Strikeouts (7.7 K/9)
62 Walks (3.2 BB/9)
Simply looking at the ERA and WHIP does not tell the entire story of Niese’s season. Right off the bat you can see that he was extremely unlucky. You have to expect that to improve, helping him immediately across the board.
The overall numbers are also somewhat skewed, as he tired and struggled down the stretch. Just look at his ERAs over the final two months of the season:
- August – 4.43
- September – 7.11
That’s a lot of bad to conclude his season, and certainly overshadowed a ton of good. In June and July he made 10 starts, allowing one earned run or less six times. In three of his other starts he allowed three earned runs. Only once did he have a dud, allowing six earned runs to the Tigers.
Starts like that are going to happen, but his ability to string that many strong starts together is certainly encouraging.
His peripherals are just as encouraging.
The strikeout and walk numbers are extremely realistic, and comparable to his minor league marks of 8.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. While you’d like to see his control a little bit better, the numbers are certainly solid and usable.
While he’s not an elite groundball pitcher, he posted a 47.7% mark in 2010. You would think, playing in a big ballpark, home runs would not have been an issue then. However, he allowed 20 HR, 11 on the road and nine at home. His HR/FB was at 11.8%, ninth worst in the league.
Like his BABIP, you would think that he would be able to improve on that number, especially with his first full season under his belt.
With the luck metrics likely turning into his favor and the other numbers already solid, there is a lot to like about Niese for 2011. Is he going to be an ace? Of course not, but as a backend of the rotation guy, he’s going to have value in all formats.
- His ERA should be sub-4.00
- His WHIP should be below 1.33
- He has the potential to improve on his strikeouts, potentially pushing a K/9 of 8.0
There’s a lot to like, so in the last few rounds when you are looking for starting pitching depth, he’s certainly worth consideration.
What are your thoughts on Niese? Could he be viable in 2011? How good do you think he could be?
Make sure to check out our 2011 projections: