Jon Niese has been off to a great start this year and if he keeps it going, he’s going to have a great season.
Jon Niese, 2014
There are plenty of reasons to both buy and sell him. In Part 1, we went over the potential reasons to sell his hot start. Here, we appeal to all of you optimists out there and look at the positives.
Now, should you take a chance or not? Well, that depends on the kind of fantasy player you are and what you do and don’t put stock in.
Reasons to Buy
1. What he’s done recently — when healthy
In Part 1, we looked at the fact that Niese’s career hasn’t really made him a fantasy relevant pitcher. That’s all true but in 2012 and the second half of 2013, the story was different.
Jon Niese, 2012/2nd Half 2013
Jon Niese was hurt for much of 2013 but was actually healthy in the second half, so the splits may be a little more telling than the full year’s stats. This is especially true when you consider how well he pitched in 2012 and 2014.
While we’re on 2012, here’s something else to consider. Via Fangraphs, Niese’s BABIP sits at .272. That’s a little low, but doesn’t suggest serious regression is in order. It’s also the same mark that he had in 2012, which was by far his best season in the majors.
2. Citi Field
Fantasy baseball’s all about the numbers. So, looking at some numbers, how does Niese’s home park grade out?
ESPN Park Factors: Citi Field
I’d say it grades out pretty well. Actually, if you want to extend this to the rest of the NL East, Marlins Park, Turner Field, and Nationals Park are all at worst, fair parks for pitchers. The only really bad park for pitchers in that division is Citizen’s Bank Park, but a few other things need to be mentioned there.
- The Mets only have one trip remaining there this year. Now, it’s a four-game series so as long as he’s healthy and of course, not traded, it’s likely Niese will have to pitch there. But…
- When you play in that park, you’re also going against the Phillies offense. It’s not exactly a daunting group now and who knows what they’ll look like after the trade deadline, which is when that series takes place?
3. NL East
With the possible exception of the NL West, the NL East is as good a division to pitch in as any in the game. It’s been a division mired in mediocrity this year (which, by the way, is why the Mets aren’t completely buried).
At the time of this writing, the Marlins are the only NL East team that ranks in the top half of the league in runs scored. Now he’s not going exclusively against NL East opponents, but the National League in general is a better play for pitching — especially with some of the top teams not hitting well this year. As we’ve already gone over, he’ll be getting plenty of starts in good pitcher’s parks.
When you’re banking on a fantasy free agent, it’s nice to have good match-ups. With Jon Niese, you’re likely to have plenty of those.