Why Jon Niese is the New York Mets’ ace

The New York Mets have been fortunate this season. Despite ranking fourth in the NL East, the Mets have scored the second-most runs in their division with 170, only behind the Miami Marlins. That’s good and all, but it’s actually a real shame because the Mets’ pitchers have thrown almost all of those runs away by giving up 165 earned runs.

Addressing the problem

Basically, the pitching has been horrendous and it has been something the club has been trying to address. To summarize, the Mets have moved Jenrry Mejia from the starting rotation into the bullpen. They’ve been experimenting with different closers. Finally, they’ve brought up two pitching prospects with Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom from Triple-A Las Vegas to put into the starting rotation.

Despite trying to plug these holes, another cork keeps popping out. On May 14, Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee, who was one of the better pitchers in the rotation, was put on the 15-day DL due to a lat strain, but thankfully he is expected to only miss two starts. And last night against the Washington Nationals, Jon Niese gave up 3 earned runs for a 5 – 0 loss knocking Niese a game below .500 with a record of 2 – 3. However this record does not do Niese justice as he is the most consistent pitcher the Mets have right now.

An ace up their sleeve

New York Mets

While Jon Niese has a losing record, his stats say otherwise.

First, in Niese’s other two loses, he only gave up one run in each game, so the blame can be pinned on the Mets’ bats for stranding runners. Second, in last night’s game against the Nationals, the other two runs were unearned because of an error by David Wright, so Niese’s record should not dictate his ability as a pitcher. Not only that, but compared to most of his peers, Niese’s stats show far more promise.

When you look at the other pitchers, there’s not much competition. Niese can pitch better than anyone in the bullpen. Bartolo Colon doesn’t stack up well with his 3 – 5 record and 5.34 ERA. Zack Wheeler is only marginally better than Colon with a 4.53 ERA, but still doesn’t stack up against Niese. Montero and deGrom haven’t gotten their feet wet enough in the majors to judge their skills yet. So the only player who can compare to Niese is Gee.

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The battle of the aces

Putting the stats for Niese and Gee next to each other, they are mostly comparable. Niese’s ERA this season is slightly lower than Gee with 2.54 and 2.73 respectively. Niese has only given up 14 earned runs compared to Gee’s 16 earned runs. However, despite these numbers, Niese still has a losing record of 2 – 3 while Gee has a winning record of 3 – 1, so Gee wins here. To compare both pitchers more accurately, let’s look at 2013.

Last year, Niese gave up far fewer hits than Gee with 158 and 208 hits respectively. Niese also gave up less earned runs with 59 compared to Gee’s 84 earned runs. Although, Gee has struck out more players with 142 strikeouts versus Niese’s 105.

No doubt, both pitchers are solid, but as it stands, Niese is the more effective pitcher because of lack of runs and hits given, which makes him better defensively. So when it comes to who wins the title of the Mets’ ace, Jon Niese wins the bout. But with deGrom and Montero in the lineup, Gee expected to return from the DL soon, and Noah Syndergaard still lurking in Triple-A, Niese will have his work cut out for him if he wants to remain on top.