If any pitcher needed a good start on Monday it was Jon Niese. Helping the Mets take down the Phillies was just gravy. For Niese, the summer had been disastrous. After starting the season with a 5-4 record, sporting a dazzling 2.88 ERA, Niese dropped his next four decesions leaving the lefty searching for answers. Those answers came on Monday when he found his groove, striking out 6 over 7 innings and leading the team to a series win over the Phillies.
Terry Collins had this to say after the game. “That’s about as good as you can hope for, that that was all it was going to be,” Collins said. “It’s a good step for him, giving him a little down time to get some energy and strength back in his arm” (Marc Carig, Newsday). Niese was very effecient on Monday, getting through 7 innings with just 107 pitches despite not having his best stuff.
“I felt good in the beginning, but I just kind of fatigued there early and just wasn’t able to pound the zone like I normally could. But I was able to battle through and make a pitch when I needed to. It’s kind of weird this year how it is going. I’m winning with my bad stuff and losing with my good stuff. I don’t know” (Adam Rubin, ESPN).
Niese looked great and as the team heads into the end of August and into September the Mets will need him to help lead a very young rotation. After all, with Bartolo Colon likely on the way out of town, either this month or in the off season, Niese will become the default “veteran” of the pitching staff. The question is, can he handle it?