Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure – Jeff Niemman

Last night, I came to the conclusion that Jeff Niemman has a few storylines that he always follows to a T. When watching a Jeff Niemman start, I can pretty much tell how his game will go. If Jeff Niemman were writing a “choose your own adventure” story on any of his starts, here is how it would go:

1) Did you throw your first pitch for a strike?
If yes: Go to 2
If no: Go to 3

2) So you threw your first pitch for a strike, are you getting ahead of most of your hitters?
If yes: Go to 6
If no: Go to 3

3) You are now getting into a lot of hitters counts, are you walking 3 or more batters?
If yes: Go to 4
If no: Go to 8

4) Have you given up a homerun?
If yes: Go to 5
If no: Go to 7

5) Have you made it into the 5th inning?
If yes: Go to 8
If no: Go to 7

6) You are in line for a quality start. Getting ahead of hitters is the key to your success. You will pitch into the 8th inning and get a win. This is what we expected when you were selected in the 1st round of the draft.

7) You are going to have a really bad day. You have gotten rocked early. Your command is off and your pitch count is high. You didn’t even make it into the 5th inning of this game. The fact that you didn’t give up a homerun means you have been susceptible to the big inning. The big inning really does not bode well for you because you get rattled with runners on base and give up a lot of stolen bases. You also probably left the Rays with a deficit (unless you are playing the AA version of the Mets). These are the starts that we need to avoid in the future.

8) You can do better, but you also can do much worse. So you’ve given up a homerun and your command is so-so, but you have made it through 5 innings. Surprisingly, this bodes very well for you. Only 1 of your homeruns allowed was with a runner on base, so you are doing a good job keeping the opposing teams out of the big inning. If you keep this up, you will be a very serviceable number 4 starter in the future.

There is a Jeff Niemman start in a nutshell. Watch his next start and see which path he chooses to follow. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to follow along as well.

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