If there’s one player the New York Mets urgently, if not desperately need a breakout year from it is left-hander Jon Niese.
Some might say Ike Davis, which might be true if we even knew he’d be on the team. Another could be outfielder Chris Young, but odds are he won’t be back in 2015, so does it matter what kind of year he has? If he’s having a good season he might get dealt at the deadline. If he plays the season out and does well, the Mets would think he’d be too pricey to retain.
Niese, however, is cut from a different cloth. He’s in a five-year contract, but coming off a disappointing season in 2013 in which he was injured and won only nine games.
“He was hurt and took a step back,’’ said one National League scout. “Two years ago he was on the verge of a breakout season if the Mets had hit for him.’’
The tightness in his neck and shoulder surfaced after consecutive freezing-weather starts in Minneapolis and Denver.
Niese was 13-9 in 2012, and with a little run and bullpen support could have won 17 games. He was the Opening Day starter last season when Johan Santana was injured, but if the appointment were based on solely on merit, he would have been named regardless.
Despite never having pitched a complete season – defined as 34-35 starts – Niese had steadily improved, winning nine, 11 and 13 games, respectively, from 2010-12, until a shoulder limited him to 24 starts, 143 innings and an 8-8 record.
It’s time he lives up to it.
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