Jon Niese Is Closing In On A Rotation Spot
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Last summer, before his leg betrayed him, Jon Niese provided his manager a glimpse of how good it all could be. Jerry Manuel has retained an image of a young left-handed starting pitcher finding and fighting his way through big league lineups. The Mets manager appreciated what he saw to such a degree that he wants to see more. So it is that Niese has all but secured the fifth position in the Mets’ starting rotation.
Manuel indicated as much without saying the words Wednesday. Niese had pitched two scoreless innings in relief against the Astros in the Mets’ 5-2 victory. And that cameo appearance, his body of work in 7 2/3 other innings, his large curveball — pitching coach Dan Warthen says it’s the best curve in camp — and the club’s need for Fernando Nieve in the bullpen left Manuel with no alternative. As a result, the rotation will be 60 percent left-handed, with Niese, Johan Santana and Oliver Perez — not such a bad thing in the National League East — and 80 percent unproven.
Niese had left the clubhouse Wednesday before Manuel provided a qualified declaration/lukewarm endorsement.
“I kind of see it might fit better for us, as we speak here today,” Manuel said. “As I look at it today, I would say it’s still open, but he would have somewhat of an inside track.”
Those words were followed by an acknowledgment that the club needs Nieve to work in relief, possibly in the still-unassigned eighth-inning role. Read more at mets.com
I believe a lot can still change between now and April 3rd, and I’m not so sure Niese has locked up anything just yet.
I’m curious to see if Hisanori Takahashi can continue his solid spring, and you can’t count Figueroa out yet…
About the Author: Rob Johnson
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