Niese Sharp In Final Tuneup Before April 6 Start


April 1 update by Joe D.

Jon Niese threw 4.2 innings in a simulated game in Port St. Lucie tonight, allowing four runs (two earned) while walking one and striking out four. He threw 49 of 76 pitches for strikes.

This is the second minor league start since Niese received a cortisone shot in his pitching elbow to alleviate inflammation.

“For the most part, I think I’ll get better with each start,” Niese said. “I’m still kind of in the process of getting my arm in shape, but my next outing will be 90 or 95 pitches. The timetable is still the same.”

Niese looked very sharp and is on target to be activated on Sunday, April 6 for his start against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field.

As the only lefthander in our rotation, Niese keeps progressing and distancing himself from that elbow scare last month.

Quite frankly, this team could use some good news right about now and having Niese step on a mound this weekend and deliver a strong performance will be a nice shot in the arm. (Get it? Shot in the arm?)

Our own Destry Swaim projected Niese as follows:

When he’s on and healthy, Niese is one of the best left handed starters in baseball.  He’s not an ace, but he can be a #2.  He’s only 27 years old, and will be all season long.

Niese has great stuff and throws a 90-91 MPH fastball,  88-89 MPH cutter, 74-76 MPH curveball, and 82-84 MPH change up.  He falls in love with his cutter sometimes, and it seemed like he lost the feel for his curve somewhat last season, but he can command all of his pitches, and throw them all for strikes at any point in the count.

2014 Projection: 23 GS – .271 BAA – 1.30 WHIP – 3.64 ERA – 1.3 WAR

March 27- 4:05 PM

Jon Niese tossed 57 pitches this afternoon in a minor league outing. The 27-year old southpaw held his opponents scoreless while striking out three, walking one and allowing just three hits. His fastball was sat 87-89, and topped out at 92 during the outing.

Afterwards he spoke with reporters. “There was kind of a little bit of worry, just because I haven’t pitched in a game where it didn’t hurt. And today it felt amazing,” Niese told ESPN. “It felt like I felt at the end of last year.”

The next step in the process will be another turn in the minors in five days, where it’s expected that he’ll up his pitch count to 75-80. If all goes well he could head to New York to face the Cincinnati Reds on April 6th. The Ohio native also took the time to share his thoughts on his experiences this spring.

“It started off pretty s—–,” Niese said, using an expletive. “And it got a lot better today. I was pretty low there for a while at the beginning. And then it got even lower when the elbow started flaring up. And then it was real concerning. But after today, or after the last week, it’s been great. And today was a huge step because I felt amazing.”

Hopefully this the end of Niese’s battle with this most recent injury, and he can move forward towards a healthy 2014 season.

The Mets will rely heavily on him once again this year as they continue to build the team through their young pitching. mmo