What do Mets’ fans think when they think of Jonathon Niese?
The answers to this question are numerous. Young arm with a lot of potential. Injury prone, and nothing more than a number four starter. Or they might think up and coming top of the rotation pitcher. This is what makes Jon Niese an enigma and the focus of the second article of four in the series.
Nobody knows which description is right for Jonathon Niese. He has shown flashes of a above-average pitcher over the past three seasons that make fans think he has number two starter potential. He has a good enough fastball, improving cutter and devastating curverball. As good as he has looked throughout stretches of his young career, he has allowed innings to snowball, failed to pitch deep in games, and has yet to throw 175 innings in a season.
Niese was called up to the Mets in 2009 where he had a chance to contribute on a bad team. Unfortunately, he tore his hamstring and never got a chance to start feeling comfortable in the majors. In 2010 and 2011 his performance can be categorized as mediocre at best. He was given near zero WAR’s on baseballreference.com meaning he was a league average pitcher. He has allowed too many base runners with a WHIP of over 1.4 each season and was unable to limit the damage in many innings, allowing innings to snowball.
So far this season Niese has shown great improvement in WHIP, ERA and K/9. If Niese can maintain these numbers, it would firmly entrench him as the third starter in the rotation behind Dickey and Santana.
Niese’s new five year $25.5 million contract shows faith by the organization in his ability to improve. Niese’s improvement is reliant on two key factors, staying healthy and throwing his curveball more. Staying healthy is an obvious key but for Niese more than others has had numerous different injuries. Most importantly, Niese has to throw his curveball more, he throws the more traditional 12-6 curveball which seems to always befuddle opposing hitters and is rarely hit hard. It is maddening to watch a Jon Niese start when he barely uses his best weapon.
Niese is a key to the Mets’ future with his new contract in tow. The Mets need him to consistently give them 200 quality innings, and limit bad outings. Niese has been an enigma up to this point in his career for various reasons. Hopefully he can continue to break out this year.
To see part one of the series use the link: http://realdirtymets.com/2012/06/28/the-enigma-that-is-_______-part-1/