Figuring he wouldn’t be in the Mets’ postseason rotation, left-hander Jon Niese volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen, which is manager Terry Collins‘ primary concern for the NLDS against the Dodgers. Collins said Niese approached him ten days ago with the suggestion.
Collins said NIese’s willingness to pitch in relief typifies the attitude of his team.
“The entire clubhouse was caught up in winning,” Collins said. “They weren’??t caught up in their own stuff. They worried about doing what they thought they needed to do to help the club.”
The bullpen is the Mets’ Achilles Heel heading into the playoffs, in particular, the lack of situational left-hander. Citing an injury history and inability to get loose after his starts, Collins said he didn’t like the idea of using Steven Matz in that role. Today marked the first time the Mets addressed the idea of Matz in relief.
“It’??s one of those things where I wanted to do anything to help the team,” Niese said. “As the season progressed there at the end, there was a need down there.”
It could end up being Niese’s future with the team if he’s not traded.
A Met since 2008, Niese’s time in New York has been one of unfulfilled potential and injuries. At 28, he’s 61-61 lifetime and has two more years left on his contract. However, projecting ahead to next year, the Mets’ rotation figures to be Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matz and Zack Wheeler expected to come off the disabled list in July.
The Mets tried to trade Niese last winter, and might try again this offseason if they can can obtain a bat. In the back of GM Sandy Alderson’s mind is if Niese pans out in the bullpen, perhaps he can secure a spot there.
The plan is to use Niese in relief this week, with Logan Verrett getting his start Thursday in Philadelphia. What is undecided is where Bartolo Colon will work in the playoffs. Speculation is Colon will go to the bullpen, especially considering what Collins said Matz working in relief.
As a starter, Niese is adept at working to righties and lefty hitters. He has thrown only one relief inning during his career.