Reading the tea leaves, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon will all inevitably be traded in the near future sooner or later and certainly before their team control with the Mets expires. Top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard will likely come in and assume a rotation spot this season, followed by the final development and eventual promotion of Steven Matz who will ultimately replaces fellow left-hander Niese.
The question is, what will Matz have to accomplish at the major league level in order to reproduce the void created by Niese’s absence? What would it take for the younger to surpass the elder?
Matz and Niese have often drawn parallels between one another because they are both southpaws and were each drafted and developed by the Mets. However, Matz is still just a prospect and there’s no telling if his career will ever match or surpass what 28-year old Niese has been able to accomplish thus far as a major leaguer.
Jon Shestakofsky, Manager of Media Relations and Baseball Information for the Boston Red Sox, tweeted an interesting fact about the top five starting LHP in the National League who’ve racked up the most wins over the last three seasons (’12-’14). Here’s how the best stack up:
1. Clayton Kershaw (51)
2. Madison Bumgarner (47)
3. Gio Gonzalez (42)
Next on that list would be none other than Jon Niese with 30 wins. During that three year span, Niese also produced an impressive 3.49 ERA.
Niese also ranks in the top twenty among all NL pitchers over the last three seasons in the percentage of ground balls induced (14th) and the percentage of men he’s left on base (19th). By most measurements, Niese is a well above average veteran starter. His cutter and his curveball blend beautifully with one another when they’re both clicking and he gives the Mets a reliable weapon to throw off the timing set by the other hard throwing righties.
While we’re all excited to eventually see Steven Matz who brings the same tools as Niese and is supposedly better, it’s easy to forget just how valuable Niese’s performance level, grit and determination is.
Niese has pitched well above what’s considered average among all starters, but even better, he’s up there with some of the best among lefties. He quietly produces and gives you all the things you look for in a hard-nosed veteran, yet there he sits, quietly on the trading block, biding his time.
Does it make sense to hang onto Niese at least until we know exactly what we have in Matz? Or should Sandy deal our only proven lefthanded starter when the first decent offer comes along?
Lets! Go! Mets!