Dan Martin of the NY Post, had a nice column the other day in which he included comments from an interview with Mets starting pitcher Jon Niese.
Niese made the decision to come to Spring Training early because he wanted to get a jump on the season and prepare his body for the rigors of an entire season.
Some of you may remember that Jon Niese started the season on a positive note and was for the most part very consistent until the end when he seemingly ran out of gas.
He finished with an unimpressive 9-10 record with a 4.20 ERA in 173 2/3 innings. Those numbers suffered due to a terrible finish in which he went 1-3 with a 7.11 ERA over his final five starts of the season.
This year, Niese is a man on a mission and his goal is too finish strong.
“I think I need to work on my focus, especially at the end of the year. I have to focus on finishing the season instead of coasting. It’s all mental. My body is up for the task. I don’t think I hit a wall. It was one of those things that I felt good before and after games and even during games in the first part, but in later innings, I felt myself get fatigued a little bit.”
One of the things he hopes to get out of Spring Training this year is to increase his endurance and stamina.
“I think I’ll try to condition myself better. Maybe not throw as much or have it more controlled, and that will help going deeper.”
Terry Collins is confident that Niese will be get it done and be more improved in his performance and this time better prepared to pitch well and keep it going for a full season.
“Now he knows what it takes to get through 162 games and 30 or so starts,” Collins said. “I think he’ll be a better pitcher. I think he knows how to take better care of himself so in September, he doesn’t wear down.”
I love a lot of things about Jon Niese. In many ways he can be crafty like Tom Glavine was in his prime, but he also has the intensity and ability to get those big outs when it matters like Al Leiter.
We saw Niese at his absolute best last season when he hurled a complete game one-hitter against the Padres in June. He retired the final 21 batters to earn the win.
I think it’s very possible that Jon Niese can win 15 games for the Mets this season, and I see him becoming a reliable number two starter for the Mets by 2012.