Mets360 2014 projections: Jonathon Niese

If you ask people about Jonathon Niese and his 2013 season, the most likely answer you’ll get is that he pitched well after he returned from his shoulder injury but that his year was disappointing overall. This doesn’t give Niese enough credit for the year he turned in, which pretty much fits his career as a whole. There are people out there who think Niese is nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation starter, which leaves me wondering – Just who are these guys watching pitch?

Niese did finish the season strong in 2013. He also had a pretty solid start and was pitching well before he got hurt. To put it simply, Niese had two bad starts in 2013 and was excellent outside of those back-to-back outings in the beginning of May.

In April, Niese pitched in six games and had a 3.31 ERA. He struggled in the cold in Minnesota but overall had a fine opening month of the year. Then from May 16th through June 20th, Niese had a 2.50 ERA over six starts, despite allowing a .350 BABIP. Then came the shoulder injury, diagnosed as a partially torn rotator cuff, which caused him to miss over 50 days.

When he returned from the DL, Niese pitched in 10 games and had a 3.00 ERA in that span. For the season, Niese had a 3.01 ERA in 22 of his 24 starts. However, in his first two starts of May, he allowed 15 ER in 8.1 IP, which brought his season ledger up to a 3.71 ERA.

So, what will he do in 2014? Here’s what we think:

Albanesius 175.0 3.65 140 47 17 3.67 .355
Flattery 188.2 4.05 147 66 18 3.93 .340
Hangley 204.0 3.45 116 47 16 3.77 .325
Joura 215.0 3.25 175 66 17 3.52 .288
Koehler 155.0 3.50 128 49 15 3.75 .325
Kolton 91.1 4.26 96 41 13 4.30 .382
McCarthy 204.0 3.22 155 55 17 3.57 .278
O’Malley 162.0 3.73 130 45 13 3.47 .300
Rogan 182.0 3.70 155 49 15 3.38 .325
Schubert 182.1 3.42 140 42 15 3.43 .310
Stack 170.0 3.58 139 48 14 3.48 .328
Vasile 190.0 3.28 160 51 23 3.89 .320
Walendin 200.1 3.38 151 56 16 3.57 .279

Sean Flattery and Dan Kolton are the two non-believers when it comes to Niese. Everyone else has him putting up an ERA of 3.73 or lower. Four of us think he will establish a career-best in ERA and four think he will establish a personal-best in IP, with Joe Vasile missing by one-third of an inning. It seems we’re optimistic.

Here’s what the group as a whole projects for Niese in 2014:


We project better numbers for Niese than we do for Colon. We expect these two to combine for 344.1 IP and a 3.55 ERA. Last year we predicted 371 innings and a 3.52 ERA from Niese and Matt Harvey. In reality, those two combined for 321.1 IP and a 2.91 ERA. Ideally, the Mets would get more innings from their top two starters than the 344.1 that we are predicting. But when your top two feature a guy on the wrong side of 40 and a guy who has suffered several injuries in his career, it’s probably not realistic to expect more than this.

Here’s our forecast along with what the other projection systems available on FanGraphs predict for Niese this year:

Mets360 178.1 3.50 141 51 16 3.64 .325
Steamer 153.0 3.90 119 47 13 3.59 .294
Oliver 167.0 3.61 131 49 14 3.52 .308
ZiPS 161.2 3.79 121 49 14 3.74 .290

Ours is the most optimistic but all four are quite similar. Perhaps most surprising is the agreement on IP, with all of the forecasts within 25.1 innings of one another. The Oliver projection calls for a 2.0 fWAR, which is a bit better than what he did last year but slightly worse than both 2011 and 2012.

Check back Thursday for our next entry in the projection series.

12 comments for “Mets360 2014 projections: Jonathon Niese

  1. Chris F
    January 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    “There are people out there who think Niese is nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation starter, which leaves me wondering – Just who are these guys watching pitch?”

    It seems a guy with a 3.50 ERA and 141 Ks.

    The question also supposes what team is involved. He might be the ace in Toronto or Minnesota. He might be the 5 guy with the Dodgers.

    On the Mets he seems to slot at 3 or 4, depending who else is in the line up. He doesnt seem to have top of the rotation numbers, like a near 3 ERA, 200 Ks etc, like say Gio Gonzalez. He seems more like a Matt Garza type, who aint a front guy in my opinion.

    • January 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      It doesn’t make a difference what team is involved. I don’t care when a guy pitches for his team – I care about him in regards to the rest of the league.

      Last year, in an injury-shortened season, one where two starts distorted his season output, Niese was a low-end #3 starter when you compare him to the rest of the NL in IP and ERA.

      • Chris F
        January 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm

        Yep, that seems about right on target.

  2. Jerry Grote
    January 27, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Don’t all the games count … the ones in Minnesota when its cold, and the six starts where he puts up a 2.5 ERA, and the lousy ones just before he’s diagnosed?

    His ERA was 3.71. He’s never put up 4 WAR. He’s never thrown 200 IP. He’s not all that and a bag of chips.

    On this team, next year, he’s probably the third best starter at the beginning of the year. By time Montero and Thor get here, he’s the fifth best and that’s before Harvey returns next year.

    • January 27, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Absolutely all of the games count.

      I’m not saying Niese is a #1 starter like Clayton Kershaw. All I’m saying is he’s not a #5 starter like Jake Westbrook or Dan Haren, either. But you hear people say that a lot when it comes to Niese.

      • Chris F
        January 27, 2014 at 10:51 pm

        But overall a back half guy. I do disagree with your notion that context doesn’t matter. There is no meaning to a mlb starting position — every staff has it’s own quality. On a competitive team, hes a 3 or 4 guy is my guess.

        • January 27, 2014 at 10:56 pm

          Context matters but it’s league context and not team context that counts.

          Just because Roger Craig pitched Opening Day for the 1962 Mets didn’t make him a #1 SP

  3. Name
    January 27, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    QS isn’t the best stat, but it does measure consistency. Even with Niese drawing the short end of the stick and having to pitch in two of the brutally cold games of the year, his QS% was 62.5%. Guys near him were Garza, Lohse, Bailey, Hudson.

    If you take out that one start where he left due to injury, it’s up to 65.3% and guys around there were Gio Gonzalez, Latos, Liriano.

    In 2012, he had the 6th! highest QS% in the NL at 73% with only Dickey, Gallardo, Kershaw, Zimmerman and Hamels ahead

    He’ll probably never have that sexy ERA due to his occasional blips, but he is a rock solid in terms of giving you a chance to win each game he starts over the entire season. If consistency is how you judge a SP, he was a #1 pitcher in 2012 and #3 in 2013.

    • Patrick Albanesius
      January 28, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I like your assessment! QS are a huge indicator of helping the team win, and that’s what Niese does in spades. My numbers were a little on the negative side, but I have been a fan of how he goes about pitching, and he’s somebody I want to keep in the rotation for years to come.

  4. Scott Ferguson
    January 28, 2014 at 6:58 am

    I didn’t get my projection in, but I have a strong feeling Niese is an innings eater this year and breaks 200 IP.
    I’m in agreement with the other numbers.

  5. James Preller
    February 10, 2014 at 7:20 am

    For some unknown reason, Jonathan Niese has been less than the sum of his parts (in contrast to Gee, who is the opposite). When I watch Niese, I really like his stuff and can imagine him as a late addition to an all-star staff. Perhaps due to injury, or immaturity, he’s not yet made the most of his potential. He needs to make a leap, that jump to the next level we see so many athletes make. I just don’t know if it’s in him or not, it really could go either way. On the plus side: Lefty! Another plus: There are games when you can see it all come together and it is very impressive.

  6. Metsense
    February 13, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Niese seems like an Andy Petite type . Sometimes pitches as an ace, sometimes as a three but always steady and reliable. I think the staff consensus was slightly generous with his ERA and 3.70 would be closer.

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