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Clone Wars: Jon Niese and Nelson Figueroa

I'm borrowing this title from a series at the incomparable Hardball Times Fantasy page. Their series focuses on comparing similar players' fantasy stats, but obviously our concern here is actual performance in real baseball (unless, maybe you are reading this in preparation for a NL-only league).

Thinking about the Mets' rotation competition, I was struck by how similar some of the pitchers are (not always in a good way). Just looking at their stats, for instance, you might confuse Jon Niese and Nelson Figueroa:


Level IP H R HR BB/9 K/9 GB% FIP
2009 AAA 94.1 95 47 7 2.48 7.82 53.80% 3.88
2009 MLB 25.2 27 12 1 3.16 6.31 45.80% 3.25
2010 CHONE 132 141 73 15 3.41 7.09 x 4.23



Level IP H R HR BB/9 K/9 GB% FIP
2009 AAA 112 91 29 5 1.93 7.55 38.00% 2.77
2009 MLB 70.1 80 33 8 3.07 7.55 39.20% 4.31
2010 CHONE 156 161 83 18 3.23 6.92 x 4.29


The similarities in their CHONE projections is most interesting, given their differences in age, career path, and handedness. While Niese boasts a slightly better fastball, and thus throws his much more often, there are some pretty big similarities in their repertoire too. The biggest difference when projecting next year's performance, however, and the reason I included GB%, is Niese's improved cut-fastball. That pitch alone allows him to generate tons of groundballs, whereas Figueroa gives up more hard linedrives and flyballs.

There are other practical considerations in choosing between them, though. Figueroa must pass through waivers to be sent to AAA, and in doing so, can opt out of his contract. Sending Niese to the minors for a few months might mitigate against his not being 100% recovered from his injury and could delay his service time, giving the Mets an extra year of team control. So, the question becomes whether Niese's slight edge in talent outweighs the potential of losing Figueroa or depriving Figueroa of his last shot to stick with the team. Given the Mets rotation situation, I would be inclined to privilege quality over financial concerns. 


Between the two, who should break camp as the Mets' 5th starter?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Nelson Figueroa
    (305 votes)
  • 49%
    Jon Niese
    (295 votes)
600 votes total Vote Now