What if Jeff Niemann
Rookie of the year candidate Jeff Niemann put together a good rookie campaign with an ERA of 3.94, a 1.35 whip and a 13-6 record over 180.2 innings.
The first thing I want to do for Jeff Niemann is soften his first start. Before he recorded his first out, he allowed 5 runs and 4 hits with 1 walk. The 5 walks+hits only lower his whip .03, but the 5 ER knock his ERA down a quarter point to 3.69.
Now let’s compare Jeff Niemann to a similar pitcher, who will temporarily be denoted X.
Niemann: 6.23 K/9, 2.94 BB/9 1.35 whip
Pitcher X: 7.38 K/9, 2.12 BB/9 1.3 whip
I’m fairly confident Niemann can match Pitcher X, because in fact, Pitcher X is Jeff Niemann over the second half of the season.
One thing that’s very clear, despite those 5 ER before he got his first out of the season, Niemann was much luckier in the first half than the second half. Overall his luck was fairly balanced, but individually each half was not. Despite more K and a few less innings, he gave up five more hits in the second half. I suspect with neutral luck, his first half whip would have been over 1.4, and his second half under 1.3, with the same overall season number. I suspect Niemann will have a great 2010 if he picks up where he left off in 09.
Of course this is no guarantee. Bronson Arroyo has been a great second half pitcher with lousy first halves and a marginal overall season for 3 years in a row. I’m more inclined to believe in Niemann, being that he is a rookie.