Opinion: Jon Niese’s April was remarkable

Maggie Wiggin, Contributor

After an injury-plagued 2013 and a Spring Training shortened by both shoulder and elbow concerns, Jon Niese‘s performance throughout the month of April has been remarkable.

He has a 2.20 ERA this season after Tuesday’s start against the Phillies, during which he pitched through cold, rainy weather and allowed just one run and four hits through seven innings.


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“It seems like the more I pitch in cold weather, the more I figure out how to stay warm,” Niese said after the game.

In five starts this season, Niese has averaged well over six innings per start and has given up a total of just eight runs. He’s shown excellent control with a walk rate well below average, despite pitching in some difficult conditions. His fastball velocity is down a tick from last year, but he’s likely still building strength and in the meantime, he’s mixing his pitches effectively and keeping hitters off balance…

Niese has also continued to show a solid approach at the plate. His four walks not only lead the league among pitchers, no other team’s staff has more than three total. For a Mets team that has yet to see a pitcher get a hit, every bit of production helps.

Of course, it’s early and Niese is very unlikely to maintain his 2.20 ERA throughout the season. He’s stranding runners at an unsustainable rate and his batting average on balls in play is well below his career norm. We should expect more hits to fall in against him and more baserunners to score as the season goes on.

Nonetheless, he’s off to an excellent start and showing a lot of good signs for the season ahead. If his ERA ends up around his current FIP of 3.58, that would be an improvement over last year and his best season since he put up a 3.40 in 2012. Most importantly, he’s healthy and effective, which no one could have counted on before the season started. His health, like his ace-like ERA, may not hold up over the course of the year, but he’s off to a great start.




31 comments
cmetsfan
cmetsfan

I think he should have a very strict pitch count to keep him serviceable. 

kefhrny17
kefhrny17

Off topic but Harang is 3-1 with an ERA of .85... Hindsight is 20-20 but that's cray...

Not4Nutten
Not4Nutten

Good Job Maggie, You're right on the Money, this is the best he's ever pitched, he looks confident and is doing a great job changing speeds! Lets hope he makes it thru the season with no issues! 

nagel100
nagel100

absurd to get rid of him now with a friendly contract and pitching as effectively as he is.  this is the best April he has had.  let's see what May holds.


mets are 15-11 because of starting pitching.  they have the most quality starts

hashburry
hashburry

Not sure 6 1/3 innings per start constitutes "well over 6 innings", but compared to the rest of the staff, he's not killing the bullpen.  Hopefully, he keeps it up, but the cold weather works both ways.  Tough to pitch, grip ball in bad weather.  But it also keeps the ball in the park and Niese eventually will start giving up homers at his normal rate when it warms up.  I think he is the best bet to get a decent return in June or July if he keeps pitching well, and it is still hard to see this team competing with this lineup and bullpen.  They should continue to collect younger assets, and Niese being somewhat young and cheap, may get a substantial bat.  The Mets need to stop sitting n players that eventually lose all their value when they need to develop a team for 2015 when the pitching staff gets closer to really being able to dominate over the long haul.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

I was enormously concerned with his Spring this year.  Everything about it seemed like a red flag that he was really going to struggle this year or was injured. 

Calling him a pleasant surprise is an understatement.  He's never pitched to how good his underlying numbers say he should be but right now he is just flat out dominating.

jessegrauman
jessegrauman

@maggie162 @metsblog One point re his BABIP - Mets have vastly improved OF D so I might expect at least some improvement on that front.

mets2014
mets2014

I have always been a big fan of niese's stuff, however his past shoulder issues are very concerning...even though he is the only lefty in the rotation, it may benefit the team the most to sell high now rather than potentially being stuck with an injury prone starter

Bob Burket
Bob Burket

Reminds me so much of Jerry Koosman.

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@nagel100 Not taking anything away from what the Mets SPs have done so far, but I hate the "quality start" stat.  It was invented by some agent looking to get more money for his #4-caliber starting pitcher.


A quality start is defined by 6 innings and 3 runs.  How is a guy pitching to a 4.50 ERA "quality"?

rstpigeon
rstpigeon

@hashburry I'm looking forward to seeing Wheeler get on track and stay there. You don't see too many pitchers, these days averaging better than 6.2 /start over the season and the Mets currently have 2 - Gee and Colon. Niese will get there. If Mejia doesn't, pitching at the back end, that's fine. After Wheeler's last outing. I'm feeling pretty good about him. I'm figuring Colon may prove to be the odd man out later this year.

Ian Carvalho
Ian Carvalho

@hashburry  His contract is extremely team friendly. At some point you need to stop acquiring younger talent and try to win. Niese is young, affordable and good enough to be part of the future.

mets2014
mets2014

@hashburry I agree it should be a constant cycle...especially when the team is challenged with salary constraints...move the likes of niese, gee, colon, murphy and c young and replace with young more skilled talent and use the savings to acquire a couple of impact power bats

mettle
mettle

@mets2014  I agree, have to make room for the young arms coming up.  

nagel100
nagel100

@Michael Frias @nagel100  4.5  is not quality.  but 2.2 is and that what Niese just did in April.  what have you done lately?  niese has been "underpaid" in april.


as i said let's wait for May but he kicked ass in april.

mets2014
mets2014

@Ian Carvalho the dilemma becomes would you rather pay niese $7M in 2015 or trade him get young talent for him, replace him in the rotation with one of the young studs for minimum salary and use the $7M towards a power bat?  I choose the latter 

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@mettle @mets2014 Gotta love this thinking.  All everyone does is clamor for the need of "established, proven, talent" and once the younger guys they have become "established, proven, talent" (Neise, Gee, Murphy) everyone wants to trade them away.

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@nagel100 Oh, I'm not taking away anything that Niese has done so far.  I just hate the qualifiers of what constitutes a "quality start".


Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@billennium @Michael Frias@nagel100 I agree.  But if I told you the Mets just went out a spent money on a SP with a career 4.50 ERA, would you expect that guy to be a major "quality" contributor to the team, or would you consider him more of a back-end rotation guy?


If it was 7 IP and 3 runs (3.85), or 6 and 2 (3.00 ERA), I think that would be a more accurate description of a "quality start"

hashburry
hashburry

@Michael Frias @mets2014 @Ian Carvalho  There is a big difference between running Duda and Tejada out there when the odds are highly likely they will fail and trying to obtain a blue chip close to ready player for a replaceable rotation piece.

mets2014
mets2014

@Michael Frias @mets2014@Ian Carvalho in all fairness if syndergard doesn't pan out, then you hope Montero does...if Montero doesn't you hope deGrom does...if deGrom doesn't you hope matz does...if they all fail, you can sign a FA...my point is, the mets aren't solely relying on one young arm...they have a ton of young depth, which most are highly regarded...at some point you have to give them the ball and hope for the best

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@mets2014 @Ian Carvalho And what do you do when the young arm is no more than a 2-3 wins above .500 pitcher, and the money saved is spent on another Chris Young?  For a team who's fan base is allegedly tired of the GM taking too many "chances" on young unprovens (Tejada, Duda) and overpriced veterans, there seems to be a lot of talk about calling up a bunch of young unprovens and spend money on overpriced veterans (Drew, Marales).

William Bonilla
William Bonilla

Mets need a bat and niese can help get one....plus chances are niese will get hurt again...which will leave them with neither a bat or an established arm