After returning from a stint on the disabled list New York Mets starting pitcher Jon Niese has been anything but stellar over his last four starts. Since returning from injury, Niese is 0-4 with a 5.76 ERA and his struggles continued tonight in the Mets 7-1 loss to the Washington Nationals. From the first inning of tonight’s game, Niese was leaving pitches over the heart of the plate and the Nationals hitters were attacking early in the count.
Tonight Niese went six innings allowing six runs on eight hits. He was burned by a two run home run in the first inning off the bat of Adam LaRoche and a three run shot from Danny Espinosa in the sixth inning. It was clear right from the beginning that the Nationals had his number tonight — even outs that were recorded were on hard hit balls. Niese seemed to miss his spots and it came back to bite him especially on the two long balls.
Over the last four starts, Niese has really been knocked around and the problem in each start has been pitch selection along with him missing his spots. Niese has labored and just hasn’t really looked like the Jon Niese that we all know since he went down with an injury on July 4. Before the injury, Niese was 5-4 with a 2.96 ERA and was putting together what perhaps could have been the best year of his career.
I don’t want to speculate too much, but I hope that Niese isn’t pitching injured. I don’t think that is the case here, but we have seen him laboring since his return from the DL and he just hasn’t been the efficient pitcher that we all saw before the injury. Niese has battled the injury bug quite a bit in his career and you just hope that he isn’t going out there at less than 100 percent. That would only make matters much worse, but this is just pure speculation.
Niese has gone through rough stretches in his career before and has pitched out of funks. For the Mets sake I hope that will be the case here, because they cannot afford to have Niese labor the way he has for any longer. He is a big part of the Mets current and future plans and you hope that this funk is just a short term thing. If he isn’t injured, I am not worried because I have seen Niese go through tough times before.
A great example of Niese bouncing back would be last season. In the first half, Niese went 3-6 with a 4.32 ERA and was anything but effective. After the All-Star break he went 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA. With that being said, I am not worried about Niese. If he is at 100 percent health, he should be able to battle through these struggles and be the quality pitcher that we have seen him grow into.
Niese will next take the ball on Monday August 11 when the Mets take on the Philadelphia Phillies on the road. I hope that Niese can find his way in his next start because he is an important part of this team and you hate seeing a guy like that struggle for an extended period of time.