Jon Niese has renewed confidence in his curveball
Jon Niese earned his ninth win of the season with six shutout innings over the Braves, improving to 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA against Atlanta in 2015.
But for Niese, this start was more significant as it was his second quality effort after four consecutive poor starts to end the month of August and start September.
He was removed after throwing only 88 pitches, and while he wanted to go out for the seventh inning, he understood why Terry Collins removed him from the game, as the manager was concerned over Niese being susceptible to the big inning.
“I wanted to [stay in the game], but obviously Terry’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. It’s kind of an important time of the year. It is what it is,” Niese said.
Terry Collins credited Niese’s curveball in particular for Niese’s success on Monday, and Niese said he’s emphasized that pitch in between starts as of late.
“Ive been working on it constantly since Ive struggled with it,” Niese explained. “I just have confidence in it now. I’m able to throw it for strikes down in the zone. My sinker, cutter, change-up – really everything was working for me.”
Niese struggled with the command and break of his curveball during his month-long slump, but has re-established that pitch down in the zone over his last two starts.
“I felt more confident with it,” he said. “I was working on it in the bullpen in between starts. It was looking pretty good. I felt like I could use it in certain situations today, and had success with it so I kept using it.”
For now, there are no guarantees for Niese beyond the regular season, as a spot on the postseason roster may not be available.
But for now, Niese isn’t focusing on whatever lies ahead for him.
“I don’t really think about that kind of stuff,” he said. “Whenever they ask me to go out there and start, I go out there and do my best and give my best effort. Whatever decisions they make, that’s up to them.”
Niese now has a 2.47 ERA in 19 starts with five or more days of rest, and a 6.96 ERA in ten starts on four days of rest.