August 29, 2013

What Can We Expect From Niese?

So Jonathon, what would you say you... do here?

At the beginning of the year, management told me you were an ace, and looking at around at your competition on the staff, it was tough to argue. (Remember Shaun Marcum?) You were coming off of a 13 win season with an ERA of 3.40, and looked poised to progress further this year. 

You looked okay to start the year. You were solid, reliable, dependable. Like everyone else in Queens, you were overshadowed by Harvey of course, and there's no shame in that. Your ERA was a bit over 4, but slow starts happen. You were an effective lefty, and they aren't growing on trees. You were, basically, one of the few starters in the organization who was not one massive question mark. 

Naturally, you got hurt.

Photo by Michael Baron

It's not your fault. You're a Met, after all, and putting on the uniform is an occupational hazard. Most insurance companies would make you check 'Current Met' as a pre-existing condition. Since your return you've looked good, very good even. You're regarded as part of the Mets' future, but in what fashion?

With Harvey likely to miss most or all of next year, we're again without a natural ace. I don't think you're a #1 pitcher in a competitive rotation though, and I'm not sure anybody really does. You're a very nice pitcher, but you're not a stopper, a streak breaker. If we want, let's look further down the road, when Matt Harvey is back as the ace. Could we use you in the two slot to break up Wheeler and Harvey in the rotation? That would make sense. I think you'd flourish more in the two spot than as an ace. But you probably aren't going to shake out as the second best pitcher on the staff, so then what? There are a lot of kids coming up through the system, where do you fit?

If we're lucky, fourth in the rotation. That should be the plan. Keep all the pitching, it tends to get hurt. If you have a team good enough to slot in the fourth spot, well, that's probably a team that's going to win quite a few games.

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