Jon Niese has reminded the Mets he still has a lot of value to them
Jon Niese has had a topsy-turvy first half of the 2015 baseball season.
Just over a month ago, Niese witnessed his ERA rise to 4.43 for the year and his record sink to 3-6, watching his value decrease, both in the industry and to the club itself. He suddenly became the subject of trade rumors and being the potential unnecessary excess with five young, cheaper and more talented pitchers on the roster.
But Niese never showed any panic. At least not in public. He was always confident he would find a way to get his two-seam fastball down and his cutter out of the middle of the plate.
And now, he’s demonstrating he still has value to the Mets, especially now that Steven Matz could be shelved for most of the rest of the summer.
Niese has been every bit as good as his younger teammates in the Mets rotation over his last five starts, going 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA during that span to lower his ERA to 3.61 for the year.
He capped his resurgence on Sunday when he allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings to the Diamondbacks, the best offense in the league this season, while earning his second win in as many starts.
“I had a four-game slump there where I just wasn’t able to execute anything and I was able to get through it,” Niese explained. “We got a lot of confidence in our stuff. We just go out there and attack hitters. That’s the biggest key. We’re not trying to work around guys. We’re attacking them and we’re having a lot of success.”
Niese is certainly an evolved pitcher at this point in his career. The stuff he had prior to the 2013 season is no longer present. The arm angle, which was once over the top, is more of a 3/4 arm slot now which appears to drag at times, often causing his curveball to hang and his cutter to not cut.
But Niese been able to adjust and navigate with guile and craftiness and command through this part of his career. He’s had his ruts, but for the most part he’s persevered through this challenge.
“It’s all about command with Jon,” said manager Terry Collins, who said Niese will start during the first series after the All-Star break in St. Louis. “He’s got four pitches and when he uses them all he’s effective.”
And that’s exactly what he did on Sunday. He didn’t have a great change-up, but his cutter and curve were very good and he effectively mixed both of those pitches in with his two-seam fastball, all of which he was able to command the bottom of the strike zone with short of only a couple of mistakes.
One of those mistakes came against MVP-candidate and Triple Crown threat Paul Goldschmidt, and nobody can slip one through the cracks against that guy.
Still, it was another impressive showing for Niese. And, now that Niese is once again a very relevant part of the formula in Flushing, he’s starting to sound very hungry about what the team is striving for this fall.
“We’re not satisfied by any means,” Niese explained. “If we reach our potential it could be a pretty exciting second half.”