Jon Niese Sent Down
The Mets have sent Jon Niese to minor league camp, effectively removing him from the competition for the fifth starter’s role.
The lefthander pitched eight innings this spring, allowing six runs on six hits — including two homeruns — and a startling seven walks. He did strike out seven.
Whether it was nerves, lack of preparation, or skillset, Jonathan Niese did little to suggest that he’s ready to pitch at the MLB level. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to help the Mets at some point this year, it simply means he needs more time to develop. Since we in the NYC area didn’t get to see much of Niese on TV, it’s hard to evaluate his performance. Looking strictly at the numbers, the walks are the biggest concern — spring training or no spring training, you can’t succeed walking more than one batter per inning.
The move will not only allow Niese to develop at his own pace, and away from the microscope, but will also give Livan Hernandez and Freddy Garcia more reps in game situations.
Some folks may ask why Niese’s poor numbers earn him a demotion, while Garcia’s equally awful stats allow him to stay with the big club. A few reasons, beginning with the fact that Garcia has succeeded in MLB before, while Niese has yet to do so. Secondly, Garcia is coming off an injury, and there is speculation (hope?) that he is not yet showing himself at 100%. Niese, on the other hand, is completely healthy, and what he shows today is pretty close to what he’ll show a month from now — at least, from a physical standpoint / velocity range. Additionally, if Niese is NOT throwing at 100% right now, the Mets may not think that velocity is what will help him reach the next level. They may believe his issue has more to do with command and consistency. In contrast, Garcia’s career is almost completely dependent on whether he can get his fastball close to 90 MPH, because he has shown good command of the rest of repertoire.
Personally, I’m glad Niese is out of the spotlight. He’s not ready for it, and needs to concentrate on honing his skills without outside pressures. With time, he’ll find his way to Flushing, eventually.