Fans of the New York Mets will remember Jon Niese, a long time member of the team’s starting rotation. What has the lefty been up to lately?
Fans of the New York Mets will remember Jon Niese, a long time member of the team’s starting rotation. Niese, a left-handed pitcher, won 61 games for the Amazins’ over nine seasons of appearances. The lefty never threw particularly hard, often relying on his signature 12-6 curveball and sharp cutter. Over 179 starts (188 total games) in a Mets’ uniform, Niese recorded a respectable ERA of 3.99. Over his career with the New York Mets, Niese proved to be a reliable presence for a team that often struggled to win games.
Niese last appeared in a Mets’ uniform in 2016. The lefty was originally traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates following the 2015 season. After a disappointing few months in Pittsburgh, Niese was reacquired by the Mets in August of 2016. In total, Niese finished 2016 with eight wins, seven losses, an ERA of 5.50 and a WHIP of 1.587. The veteran starting pitcher has not appeared in a game with a Major League organization since his poor showing in 2016. So, what has he been up to lately? Why is Jon Niese relevant news?
On April 1, the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League announced that they had selected Niese at the Atlantic League’s Player Showcase. The Atlantic League has often been considered equivalent to Double/Triple-A talent, so this may be Niese’s chance to break back into Major League Baseball. 2019 will be Niese’s first season in Independent Baseball.
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Mets’ fans will also be familiar with the manager of the Long Island Ducks, Wally Backman. Backman was a member of the Mets’ 1986 World Series team and a long time coach within the organization, prior to resigning from his position in 2016. Backman is looking forward to having Niese on his pitching staff for the 2019 season.
“Jon looked very good on the mound this weekend,” said Backman (via MyCentralJersey.com). “I’m looking forward to working with him again and think he will be a great addition to our pitching staff.”
There is a strong former Amazin’ influence all throughout the 2019 Long Island Ducks. Niese will join two former teammates, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker, as new members of the roster. The Ducks’ pitching coach, Ed Lynch, is also a former member of the New York Mets. This presence of former Amazins’ makes sense when you consider that Bud Harrelson, another former Mets’ player and coach, is part of the Ducks’ ownership group.
Will Jon Niese make it back to Major League Baseball? We will have to wait and see, but as a New York Mets fan, I know that I will check up on his progress throughout the 2019 season.