I think I've made a total of three or four Jeff Niemann related posts since the season began. Two are still ridiculously relevant. There is this one, on how his fastball is remarkably average, and this one, on how he throws the fastball early and often. Niemann pulled his toughest draw of the season tonight and both issues were prevalent.
9 of the first 10 pitches were fastballs and 47 of 76, or 61%. That is over reliance on a pitch that topped out at 91.9, averaged 89.5, and broke -2 inches in to righties and under 10 inches up. You know how Andy Sonnanstine's fastball is hittable and all that jazz? Last year, Sonnanstine's average fastball sat 87, broke -3.7 inches and 7.3 inches. Niemann's fastball was only marginally better tonight. You know who doesn't like throwing Sonny's fastball? Sonny, 70% of the time. Yet Niemann threw his 61% of the time.
Niemann threw six change-ups, three sliders, and 20 curves. Two of Niemann's five whiffs came on fastballs, two on curves and one on a change-up. That's 6.5% swinging strikes overall, and by pitch type:
And again, Jeff Niemann used his fastball 60% of the time. There's a few potential explanations to this. Niemann feels the most comfortable with his fastball, Niemann thinks he has a good fastball, the coaching staff or Navarro want to establish Niemann's fastball, or it's just a coincidence. Most of those scenarios boil down to someone being far too confidence in a pitch they have no business being confident in.
Niemann's not as bad as he was tonight or that start at Baltimore, but he's not as good as he showed on the road trip either. He's somewhere in between.