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Jeff Niemann

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#1 Brad Swanson

Brad Swanson

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:50 PM

I do a weekly Power Rankings post at my blog and this week there weren't any Twins stories that I cared about. So, I wrote about free agents who are still available. It's here, if you're interested. Of the ten FAs I looked at, nine are still available. I listed Niemann 4th and the more I investigate, the more I like him.

His strikeout and ground ball rates had been increasing, prior to his injury in 2012. He missed all of 2013 with a shoulder issue, but he should be ready to pitch around mid-season this year. The shoulder issue is certainly a problem, but the Twins could easily take a flier on him, let him continue to rehab, replace Kevin Correia with Niemann in July and reap the benefits. Benefits aren't for certain, but I'd want my team reaping them if they are there to be reaped.

I looked at Niemann's BB, K and GB rates from his last three years, all of which were trending in the right direction or just good from the start (BBs). Here are his figures: 45.77% GB rate, 18.48% K rate, 7.53% BB rate. Here are all the pitchers who matched or eclipsed those numbers in 2013 (at least 130 IP):

[TABLE="width: 211"]

Clayton Kershaw

Matt Harvey

Hisashi Iwakuma

Adam Wainwright

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Felix Hernandez

Chris Sale

Ivan Nova

Ervin Santana

Jordan Zimmermann

Patrick Corbin

Homer Bailey

John Lackey

Rick Porcello


14 guys and only Porcello had an ERA over 4. Santana had the highest xFIP at 3.69. I'm not 100% certain that Niemann has anything left, but he's only 30 and prior to his injury, he could hit 95 with his fastball. He's interesting, especially with so few starters out there and the Twins still in need. Why not try to grab him on an incentive-laden deal with an option for 2015?

What does everyone else think?
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