Things looked like they were about to get out of hand for young Jon Niese in the first inning of Saturday’s game against Marlins.
He was quickly greeted with a leadoff single by Chris Coghlan and after a double by the always dangerous Hanley Ramirez, it was quickly runners on second and third with one out with cleanup hitter Gabby Sanchez at the plate. Four straight pitches out of the strike zone and the bases were loaded. Logan Morrison makes Niese pay with a laser up the middle driving home two runs and before Niese could get one out, he quickly put his team in 2-0 deficit. However, the worst was over and he retired the final two batters to end the first.
What would happen next, would be an exhibition of poise coupled with effective pitch selection by the Mets southpaw, who bore down and showed a remarkable efficiency rarely seen with one so young.
After throwing 29 pitches in that first inning, Niese looked like he was well on his way to an early shower, but he effectively pitched the next six innings with surgical precision. Here is the evidence:
- 1st Inning – 29 pitches
- 2nd Inning – 9 pitches
- 3rd Inning – 7 pitches
- 4th Inning – 7 pitches
- 5th Inning – 14 pitches
- 6th Inning – 10 pitches
- 7th Inning – 11 pitches
All in all 87 pitches with 60 of them for strikes.
Niese topped out at 93 mph and used a nice array of pitches to get some positive results. He allowed just one hit and no walks after the first inning. His best pitch was his signature curve which he threw 22 times, 17 of them for strikes. His cutter is also becoming quite the weapon for him and a great out pitch. The two-seamer and four-seamer may not be on par with some of the big boys in the National League East, but they appear much faster to a hitter when he effectively mixes them in with the other pitches including his improving changeup.
Niese is only at the beginning of his second full season as a major leaguer, but is showing the poise of a crafty veteran on the mound, giving us hope he could become a dominant top of the rotation starter as soon as this season.
We’ll need to see more performances like this one before making such a claim, but all the arrows are pointing up and the possibility is very real.
Chart by Brooks Baseball.