Jonathan Niese’s dreadful spring continued during today’s start against the St. Louis Cardinals. After allowing two runs in the bottom of the second inning, Niese was removed from the game with discomfort in his left elbow. Niese was not sharp on the mound, and his injury was obviously affecting his performance. While new reports are saying his injury is not serious, the New York Mets should still be extremely worried about Niese and his future.
The Mets are counting Niese to have a strong year in 2014, but he is a huge injury risk. This is second time that there has been a scare about Niese’s health this spring. He felt pain in his throwing arm back in February, and he reported that his arm felt dead. He also missed significant time last season with a rotator cuff tear. With all of these injury concerns, it is fair to wonder how effective he will continue to be for New York.
Another cause for concern for the Mets is Niese’s inconsistency on the mound. After a breakthrough 2012 season, Niese took a huge step back last year. He was 8-8 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.44 WHIP, and he posted his lowest innings and strikeout totals of his career. The year of 2013 wasn’t his only mediocre season either. For his career, Niese owns a career 3.99 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, and his record is just a few games over .500 at 43-40.
With a good fastball and an excellent breaking ball, Niese does have a lot of talent though. However, it is starting to look like he might not ever reach his potential. His injury history is very concerning, and he has yet to establish himself as a consistent top of the rotation starter.