According to MiLB.com, Jon Niese was named International League pitcher of the week after compiling a 1-0 record and 1.06 ERA in two starts for the Bisons. Niese, who allowed 10 hits and struck out 14 in 17 innings, has rebounded to go 4-1 in his last six starts with a 1.04 ERA.
After a terrible start to his season, Niese has rebounded nicely and has lowered his ERA to a more respectable 4.31 after a 8.67 ERA in his first six starts that had everyone in the organization very concerned. In 81 innings pitched he has allowed 85 hits and 23 walks while striking out 75 batters.
It’s interesting to note that lefthanders are hitting .290 against him, while right handers are hitting just .259. He has allowed 3 homers in 16.1 innings pitched to lefthanders, and just 4 homers in 65 innings pitched to right handers.
There seems to be a growing sentiment in the Mets blogosphere that Niese is long overdue for another shot in the rotation, but I’m still a little skeptical.
I would rather see Niese string together a few more solid starts before yanking him from the minors and feeding him to the lions. His six impressive starts do not erase his other eight starts, and he hasn’t exactly blown away AAA hitting.
When he puts runners on base, he still seems to make matters worse as he did in his first tour of duty with the Mets. His ERA with runners on base is 8.97, and hitters are batting .310 against him. Those numbers should be expected to climb against major league hitting.
Truth be told, at this point I would trust Nelson Figueroa in the rotation more than I would Niese.
Figueroa is having a solid season and has already proven on many occasions that he can succeed at the major league level. He won’t exactly blow you away with his arsenal, but he can limit the damage and keep you in the game.
With runners on base, Figueroa holds hitters to a .183 batting average, not .314 like Niese.
The only Bisons player going to the AAA All Star game has a 2.67 ERA in 82 innings pitched and allowed just 68 hits and 22 walks while striking out 68 batters. That’s a 3:1 K/BB ratio and a 1.09 WHIP.
The obvious answer seems very clear to me my friends.
Jon Niese simply has more to prove in AAA before we thrust him back into the rotation, while Nelson Figueroa has earned a promotion because of a season long track record of success.
I hope the Mets make the right choice the next time they make the call to Buffalo.
By the way, in an interesting post on Amazin Avenue, James K. took a solid common sense approach toward deciding what constitutes a number one pitcher or a number five pitcher. He contends that if a pitcher is in the top 1/5 of starters in his league, then he should be called a #1 starter. The next 1/5 are #2’s, the next 1/5 are #3’s, etc. He compiled an informative list that you may find surprising.