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Jeff Niemann is the Big Average

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Despite being a former first round pick and prospect, I find it very hard to get excited for a Jeff Niemann start. In fact, Erik has bestowed the nickname of the "Big Nyquil" on Niemann because he has the uncanny ability to make you feel like you've drank a bottle of Nyquil when you watch him on the mound. Niemann isn't bad, but he isn't that good either. His 4.23/4.81 FIP is about what you expect from a fifth starter. Again, Niemann is not bad, but average and R.J. has told us many times that average isn't necessarily a bad thing. I guess you can say that's all you want from a fifth starter, but excuse me while I nap thinking about watching the next Vincente Padilla.

Padilla is another "meh" starter. He's not terrible, but he's Vincente Padilla. Good new for Jeff Niemann is the Texas Rangers will give him tens of millions of dollars in the future, but I think the days of thinking Niemann will be a potential ace are rapidly decreasing.

Here are the side by side numbers:

Niemann

 

Padilla

14

GS

13

72.1

IP

78.1

4.23

ERA

4.48

4.81

FIP

4.51

5.47

K/9

4.6

4.11

BB/9

4.14

1.33

K/BB

1.11

1

HR/9

0.57

Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr. League average. The similarities don't end there.

Here is the stuff comparison:

Niemann

 

Padilla

91.6

FBv

91.7

72.9

FB%

73.1

80.5

SLv

80.9

13.3

SL%

10.6

76

CBv

68.4

10.6

CB%

8.6

82.8

CHv

82.5

1.2

CH%

0.2

Who's excited? Both throw very similar pitches; however, Padilla's fastball is better than Niemman's. He gets more horizontal break while getting about the same break vertically. The good news is Niemann has shown the ability to fool more batters, thanks to his breaking ball. He gets nearly double the about of swinging strikes (11.75% to 5.81%) that Padilla does. Niemann is also 26 and is still very raw while Padilla is 31 and very much what you see is what you get.

Once more, this is not a knock on Niemann. League average pitching is hard to find. I'm sure plently of teams wish they could have Niemann; he's average and cheap. For comparison, Padilla has made over $20 million dollars over the past two plus seasons. The Rays will decide in the next day or so what Niemann's future will be. It looks like either he or Andy Sonnanstine will be bumped from the Rays rotation and likely headed for a role in the bullpen. If it is Niemann to the bullpen, I think the bay area will sleep well from smaller, but more frequent doses of the Big Nyquil.