Aug. 11, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: New York Mets pitcher Jon Niese against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Good pitching is sometimes hard to come by in the later rounds. Hopefully, you have picked up a few good pitchers earlier or your pitching staff is going suffer and so will your team’s chances of winning. Value is still available in these late rounds. Case and point: New York Mets starting pitcher Jon Niese. It’s plain to see that he’s not Clayton Kershaw, but his numbers are decent enough to be considered for late-round picks.
Niese has a career 3.87 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 6.2 WAR. Last year he bested all of those numbers except K/9 (6.6). His 3.40 ERA and 1.27 WHIP aren’t spectacular numbers, especially for fantasy, but some players who are ranked higher and going before Niese have comparable numbers.
Like my last article, Niese has a hyped player with little MLB experience overshadowing him. Enter Shelby Miller. I’m not discounting Miller’s talent (remember this game?) but with just two years under his belt, Miller is still a wild card; and if you believe in such things affected player production, he is starting a new season with a new team. Last year, he pitched to a 3.74 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 1.6 WAR; right around the numbers of Niese. But like last week, Miller is younger than Niese, so he gets more credit.
Derek Holland is another pitcher that I don’t trust that goes before Niese. Sure, he has upside; enough to be considered number one in the Texas rotation without Yu Darvish, but in reality, he’s a back-end starter or long relief man who is slated to pitch the season opener. When healthy, he has pitched at or above the level of Niese. He surpasses Niese in K/9, but his WHIP and ERA are not encouraging.
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Another is Braves pitcher Mike Minor. His health is my primary concern. He’s probably starting the year off on the DL and he spent time there last year. He had a career year in 2013, his only passable year. His ERA is only once below 4.00 and his WHIP is sporadic. He is all over the map. Sometimes, he is Mike Minor the potential ace or he can be Mike Minor the long relief man.
Niese is a valuable late-round pick because he is dependable and mostly consistent. Stay away from late mid-round pitchers because they are simply risks, and maybe you like taking risks, but risks should be taken when in season. You should draft smart, as best as you can, and see what lands on free agency. Niese can most likely be had with no trouble in the late rounds of 12-team leagues or deeper.