ESPN: Jon Niese is a hidden ace

Jon Niese road polaroidIn a report for ESPN, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs lists Jon Niese among three left-handed pitchers who could be developing into an unexpected ace.

Cameron writes of Niese:

“Niese shares are a lot of similarities with a young James Shields. His average fastball velocity is around 90 mph, and to balance it out he leans heavily on his cut fastball while also working in his curve and change. … If he can get his home run rate down … then Niese could be in for a breakout season sooner rather than later.”

Cameron notes that Niese has allowed 11.7 percent of flyballs allowed for home runs since 2010, which is second only to Bronson Arroyo over the same span.

Michael Baron, Contributor

I admit I was worried about Niese before the 2012 season. But after two years of questions about his stamina, he proved he can withstand a full season in 2012 – he actually got better as the year progressed. His innings and win total were hindered by the six-man rotation Terry employed late in the year – he could have easily exceeded the 200 inning mark in a normal rotation.

Despite a few hiccups – which every pitcher has – Niese was crisp, efficient, steady, reliable and durable, all while making strides to become a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. In the past when he’d get into trouble with either his cutter or curve, he would table the pitch which wasn’t working for him and he’d essentially become a two-pitch pitcher. That didn’t happen in 2012 – he trusted his stuff and didn’t waver from game plans, even when he would struggle. He also learned how to be more economical which in turn allowed him to pitch deeper into ballgames consistently. The end result was a streak of 20 consecutive starts pitching six innings or more (which is still alive) and a career high 190 1/3 innings pitched in 2012.

Niese is no slouch at this point – between Niese, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and maybe Noah Syndergaard, the Mets have the starting pitching to be contenders in future seasons. Now, it’s time to get better position players to surround the pitching staff with.