New York Mets Lefty Face-Off: Steven Matz versus Jon Niese
By Tim Boyle
Which lefty has had a better career with the New York Mets thus far; the former Met Jon Niese or southpaw currently with the club, Steven Matz?
Jon Niese isn’t often thought of as one of the better New York Mets starting pitchers of the last decade. It’s a fair thought to have. He wasn’t spectacular at all.
On the current Mets, there’s a new version of Niese. His name is Steven Matz. The pair are quite similar and I’m not so sure anyone has noticed.
Niese’s time with the Mets essentially ended after his age 28 season in 2015. Although he briefly returned at the end of 2016, it was only 11 innings.
Matz’s most recent season in 2019 was also his age 28 campaign. He does have a disadvantage in some statistics when comparing the pair because his MLB debut didn’t take place until he was 24. Niese, on the other hand, made his big league debut at age 21.
Even taking this into consideration, the two have some had very similar careers through their age 28 campaigns.
Matz versus Niese
Entering 2020, Matz owns a career 4.05 ERA. During his time with the Mets, Niese pitched to a 3.99 ERA. Take out his horrible finish in 2016 and you can drop it down to 3.91.
The numbers here are far too close to declare a winner.
This is similar for most comparisons between Matz and Niese. The two southpaws have some eerily similar numbers including career-best ERAs of 3.40.
I’m not including Matz’s six starts in 2015 for this point—whether that’s fair or not.
It’s those overall numbers we should look at most in any hypothetical war between these Mets pitchers. And when we do, there are more things they have in common.
Their walk rates are almost the same with Niese narrowly defeating Matz at 2.7 per nine to 2.8 per nine. As far as strikeouts go, we have a clear winner with Matz. He has managed to fan batters at a much better rate of 8.5 per nine compared to Niese at 7 per nine.
Two final numbers I want to look at make it an even fight yet again. Matz has the better ERA+ (97 to 94) but Niese has a much better FIP (3.88 to 4.30). Considering the difference in FIP is much great, one could say Niese earns a win here.
Matz’s career isn’t over. The same isn’t true for Niese whose path back to a big league roster is a bumping one.
Want your voice heard? Join the Rising Apple team!
Up until this point, Matz has had an underwhelming career comparable to what Niese gave the club in the earlier part of the last decade. Things could turn around. But until they do, he’s this rotation’s version of Niese.