He may not be the most dominant pitcher or have the best stuff on the New York Mets‘ pitching staff, but Jonathon Niese remains the Mets’ most important starting pitcher presently, and down the road as well. Why? Because Niese is left-handed.
Niese is the only effective left-handed starting pitcher for the Mets at the big league level. He’s not going to blow anyone away with his fastball, but he is a solid pitcher who will give a team six or more innings and give up four earned runs or less. He keeps his team in the game, and unless they make a trade to obtain another one, he will be the only left-handed thrower for the foreseeable future, because there aren’t many quality left-handed pitchers due to become free agents next offseason.
The Mets are loaded with starting pitching prospects, but they are all right-handed. Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, the two most MLB-ready prospects, will be in the big leagues by the end of the year, and suddenly, the rotation will become overcrowded. Players are going to have to be moved down, moved to the bullpen or traded, but Niese can’t be one of those pitchers.
He’s the one pitcher who can give teams a different look in a series. His ball has different movement, and his angle of delivery can have an effect on opposing hitters. Not to mention that he has the ability to hold runners on base effectively being a left-handed pitcher.
In his career, he has held left-handed hitters to a sub-.250 batting average, and that is due to his devastating curveball that has the ability to buckle a hitter’s knees every time he releases it. This year he is 0-2, but his offense hasn’t exactly helped him out. In his three starts this year, he has only given up six earned runs, which mounts to a 2.84 ERA.
He has more pressure on him than he might realize, and the Mets need him to come through with solid performances until another left-handed pitcher becomes available.