FanPost

Is the Mets' rotation better than we think?

USA TODAY Sports

It seems to be feast or famine with our starting rotation. Both our back end guys had games where they cruised early, only to stumble badly in a single inning, had some where they sucked and at least one where they looked like legit #2's.

Can advanced metrics give us any insight into what we've really got on our hands?

A total of 76 NL starting pitchers have tossed 30 or more innings so far this season. That's 5 per team + 1 extra.

So for this exercise we're going to consider the Top 15 "Number 1 pitchers" slots 16-30 will be considered #2's, 31-45 are #3's, 46-60 are #4's and 61-76 are #5's.

Here are the Mets starting pitchers and how they rank among the 76 NL starting pitchers by traditional ERA and four advanced metrics.

ERA

xFIP

tERA

ERA+

SIERA

Matt Harvey

7

2

2

8

3

Shaun Marcum

66

35

19

66

21

Jeremy Hefner

46

57

35

49

49

Jon Niese

50

70

43

52

71

Dillon Gee

67

41

48

69

34

Before we discuss those rankings, the following table attempts to "define" what type of pitcher they are by each metric. "Front 1" means they're in the top 1/3 of the fifteen #1 pitchers. "Mid" means middle 1/3 (6-10) and "Back" means lowest 3rd or 11-15 for that grouping.

ERA

xFIP

tERA

ERA+

SIERA

Matt Harvey

Mid #1

Front #1

Front #1

Mid #1

Front #1

Shaun Marcum

Mid #5

Front #3

Front #2

Mid #5

Mid #2

Jeremy Hefner

Front #3

Back #4

Front #3

Front #4

Front #4

Jon Niese

Front #4

Mid #5

Back #3

Mid #4

Back #5

Dillon Gee

Mid #5

Back #3

Front #4

Mid #5

Front #3

First things first - Matt Harvey rocks. To no one's surprise, all the metrics consider him a #1. While he's only 7th in the NL in traditional ERA and 8th in ERA+, he rocks xFIP, tERA & SIERA. The metrics are largely consistent in how they view Matt - they like!

Next let's look at one of two guys we'd hoped would perform like a #2 starter the veteran Shaun Marcum. He's the guy with biggest variance among the different measures - ranking between 19th & 66th depending on the metric - a difference of 47 slots in a sample of 76!

Both traditional ERA & ERA+ say Marcum has sucked and performed like a middle third number 5 starter. But when you look at tERA & SIERA which are pretty similar and try to control for defense you get a radically different profile. They call him a front or middle #2. xFIP, which doesn't account for types of balls in play, rank him 35th or a front to middle #3. So about all the advanced metrics agree on is that he's not a #1 - duh, we already knew that.

You might be surprised to learn that advanced metrics agree that Jeremy Hefner is a solid 3rd or 4th starter. Four of the five metrics call him the 35th-49th best NL starting pitcher to date. Both ERA and tERA rank him in the top third of #3's while SIERA puts him in the front 3rd of #4's while xFIP puts him in the back 3rd of #4's. Interesting.

Our biggest disappointment so far of course is Jon Niese and metrics rank him from mediocre to weak. While tERA calls him a back 3rd number 3 SIERA says he's a back 3rd #5 and ERA/ERA+ say he's a number 5.

Finally the guy who's done my favorite Matt Harvey impersonation to date by K-ing 12 Yankees - our very own, "now he's hairy, now he's not" Dillon Gee. Two rankings fit him in as a #3 while ERA/ERA+ say he's a middle #5 with tERA in-between. (These rankings were pulled before his 7 inning/1 run start vs. the Nats - so presumably he'd rank a little higher than noted above.)

The takeaway's I got from this are:

  • There's not nearly as much mediocre pitching out there as you'd think. A lot of guys that we'd think might be below average pitchers actually slate as #3's and #4's according to many of the metrics.
  • There's obviously a huge drop-off after Harvey. Is Wheeler going to be the guy to close that gap?
  • Our starting staff is largely "average" by many advanced measures. ERA & tERA don't like us - but SIERA says we have one guy for each slot and tERA says we've got a #1, a #2, two #3's and a #4.
  • I expected more than one of our guys to look as though they didn't deserve to be in any major league rotation.
  • Could a strong 8 start run Dillon Gee turn him into a viable trade chip for a package for an established OFer? It doesn't take all that much to be a top 25 NL pitcher. If Dillon gets there would you rather keep him or deal him?
  • What if Niese goes on a run? Does the front office believe in "the guys behind Wheeler" enough to dangle the young cost-controlled lefty? Do you?

EDIT - addition to original article. After Flushtown Fandom wondered what things would look like on a team-wide basis I added the following tables. Below are team-wide starting pitchers only ranked by the same metrics used above.

ERA

xFIP

tERA

ERA+

SIERA

1

Cards

Cards

Cards

Cards

Cards

2

Reds

Reds

Mets

Reds

Reds

3

Nats

Cubs

Reds

Nats

Nats

4

Braves

Nats

Cubs

Braves

Cubs

5

Cubs

Pirates

Nats

Cubs

Braves

6

Pirates

Mets

Pirates

D-backs

Pirates

7

Dodgers

Braves

Dodgers

Pirates

Mets

8

D-backs

Dodgers

Braves

Rockies

Dodgers

9

Phillies

Phillies tie

Phillies

Dodgers

Phillies

10

Marlins

Giants tie

D-backs

Phillies

Giants

11

Mets

D-backs

Giants

Marlins

D-Backs

12

Rockies

Brewers

Marlins

Mets

Marlins

13

Giants

Rockies

Padres

Giants

Brewers

14

Padres

Marlins

Rockies

Padres

Rockies

15

Brewers

Padres

Brewers

Brewers

Padres

The Mets like Shaun Marcum are all over the place. tERA loves us and ranks us the 2nd best starting staff in the NL. xFIP & SIERA put us in the top half of the middle of the pack by ranking us 6th and 7th respectively. And ERA and ERA+ don't like us much at all placing us 11th &12th respectively.

So the Mets either have a very good, middle of pack or lower third rotation depending on which metric you like. Uggh. I built a quick table that adds up teams various rankings based on the following point system.

For every 1st place ranking you're awarded 16 points. Every 2nd=14 pts., 3rd=13 pts., 4th=12 pts., 5th=11 pts., 6th=10pts., 7th=9 pts., 8th=8 pts., 9th=7 pts., 10th=6, pts. 11th=5 pts., 12th=4 pts., 13th=3 pts., 14th=2 pts., 15th=1 point. Probably a stupid way to do it but all I could think of. Based on the outlier that tERA is we wind up finishing 7th. Not sure what it all means but it's safe to say that if Wheeler can be 75% of what Harvey, we'll be an appreciably better ballclub.

Team

Points

1

Cards

80

2

Reds

69

3

Nats

62

4

Cubs

59

5

Braves

52

6

Pirates

50

7

Mets

42

8

Dodgers

41

9

D-backs

34

10

Phillies

34

11

Giants

23

12

Marlins

21

13

Rockies

19

14

Brewers

10

15

Padres

9

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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