In a game where final stats are normally the judging point, sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and look at more than just the end point.
For Niese this may be the most appropriate way to judge his current ability and hopefully future success.
Since giving up 5 runs on April 13th (back to back terrible outings), Niese has had 8 starts. In those 8 starts Niese has a 2.96 ERA, 5 quality starts and a 5-3 record. Over his last 3 starts he has been even better with a 0.98 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18 innings.
So is this small sample size? Yeah, but there is a pattern however. Take a look at last year. His 2010 was full of streaks. Starting small sample we all remember the 4 game stretch of 1 run appearances in August. Over that span he had a 1.38 ERA. There were other streaks that also stand out. Over a 10 game span from June 5-July 27 Niese produced a 2.58 ERA and to expand that to 15 games from that June 5-August 21st Niese produced a half season worth of games at a 2.70 ERA.
What many forget is that Niese had an ERA of 3.76 heading into his final two starts and of course finished with 2 of his worst. Could that be considered normal for a rookie? This year, what do we have with Niese? A guy that when he is on can be as good as any pitcher in the “non-ace” category. Certainly good enough at times to be labeled an upper-rotation pitcher. Interesting is what happens though to cause those horrible starts mixed in between? Is it normal progression, good scouting, a flat curve-ball? This is not a Mike Pelfrey situation, at least not in my mind. So I do believe there is potential for Niese to figure it out and have a big 2nd half this year.