Jon Niese, 25, is enjoying the best season of his young career. He has grown and developed into a more complete pitcher as he looks to wrap up his 3rd full season in the Majors. He is beginning to look like a very solid rotation option for us going forward.
Niese is potentially on his way to setting career highs in innings pitched, wins, strikeouts, and ERA. He has drastically improved his WHIP, which sat in the 1.40 range his first two seasons, and currently sits at 1.17. His ERA has dipped almost a full run from his first full season from 4.20 to 3.55. He is working on finishing the season strong, which is something he has failed to do over the past two seasons, as either limped to the finish with an injury, or became worn down.
In 2008, Niese came into the league as a starter with mediocre potential. He was one of our better pitching prospects at the time, but that is not saying much when our top guys in the minors during that time were the likes of Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey and Philip Humber.
He brought his signature hook to the Bigs, along with his low-90’s fastball. He has since developed a nice changeup and a cutter, which he features regularly as part of his arsenal. As he developed some of his new pitches, he began to throw them more frequently and as as result he’ll sometimes even shelve his curveball. He needs to do a better job of keeping that pitch as a consistent weapon, because not many pitchers have a hook like he does.
It is difficult to find good lefthanded starters, especially one that will be in the middle of your rotation. Niese will never headline a pitching staff, but he is a quality addition to any rotation.
Niese’s contract is extremely affordable for the “cash strapped” Mets. Prior to the 2012 season he inked five year deal through 2016 worth $25.5 million. He will see raises in each season as the deal moves forward. The deal also has two team options attached at the back end, and could bring the total value of the deal to around $46 million over seven years.
- 17:$10M club option ($0.5M buyout)
- 18:$11M club option ($0.5M buyout)
Niese will not earn more than $10 million in any year of the deal until after the 2016 season and only if the team decides to exercise their club options. If he is going to be winning 10-15 games a year, and pitching to an ERA in the mid three’s, then we got a heck of a steal.
The big question with Niese has been his durability, and whether he can make it through a full season healthy and effective. So far this season, he has done just that and as a result he has not worn down as the season moved toward the finish line. He has made sweeping improvements across the board, and aside from Dickey, he shapes up to be one of our most solid options heading into 2013 and beyond.
Sandy hasn’t made many great moves, but locking up Niese to a very team friendly contract might be his best one.