Michael Baron, Contributor
Earlier this week, Jon Niese threw an extended bullpen to work on his delivery and arm slot.
The adjustments seemed to work, since he allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings yesterday, while earning his third victory of the year.
“I tried to keep my arm in that good arm slot and it worked out today,” Niese said after Thursday’s game. “I’m just glad [Dan Warthen] and I were able to get that good work in the bullpen and figure out what was going wrong mechanically. Fortunately, I was able to fix it.”
Niese pitched beyond the fifth inning for the first time since April 28 and it was the first time he’s pitched into the eighth inning this season. The Mets are now 4-5 in games started by Niese in 2013.
“He threw some 93 mph fastballs today. He hasn’t done that all year. His cutter was very good. That’s why he got the groundballs,” Terry Collins explained.
Niese is the veteran of this rotation, and a big part of this team’s future. Yes, every pitcher goes through ups and downs, but Niese was totally ineffective and seemingly rattled by his poor start this year. So, it was a relief to see Niese get beyond that yesterday, make the adjustment and pitch at the level he’s capable of pitching. The Mets really needed this effort from him yesterday.
Niese now needs to repeat this delivery in his next start, but also go to his curveball more. He had a good curve yesterday, but – when Niese is at his best – he’s using it almost as much as his cutter. It has served as an effective weapon because the opposition is forced to adjust mid game, but he has gotten away from using it this season.
If he does this, I expect Niese to have sustainable success the rest of this season…