2015 NL Champion Mets Left Handed Pitcher: Jonathon Niese (2008-2016)
Jonathon Joseph Niese was born on October 27th, 1986; the same day the Mets won Game #7 of the '86 World Series.
Niese was born in Lima, Ohio going to high school in Defiance, Ohio where he was drafted by the New York Mets in 2005, in the seventh round. The six foot four, left hander began his career pitching seven games with the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2005.
By 2007 he was leading the 11 A ball St. Lucie, Mets with eleven wins going 11-7. The next season he promoted through AA Binghamton (6-7 / 3.04 ERA) & AAA New Orleans where he was an impressive 5-1 with a 3.40 ERA for the Zephyrs. As one of the Mets top pitching talents he got a big league September call up.
Niese debuted in the heat of the Mets pennant race on September 2nd, 2008. He got the start in Milwaukee but served up five runs on seven hits exiting after three innings. The team rallied to go onto a 6-5 win. On September 13th, he had an outstanding game, throwing eight innings of shutout ball, striking out seven braves to beat Atlanta 5-0.
When the day ended the Mets had a 2.5 game lead over the Phillies who would eventually take over & win the division. He pitched one more game but allowed six runs ending his season at 1-1 with a 7.07 ERA. The Mets missed the post season, losing on the final day of the season, in the last game played at Shea Stadium.
Niese spent most of the 2009 season at AAA Buffalo going 5-6 with a 3.82 ERA, striking out 82 batters in 94 innings. In New York he pitched two games in May & July going 1-1, also making one appearance in August.
Niese started the third game of the 2010 season; he allowed three runs to the Florida Marlins taking a 3-1 loss to Nate Robertson & Marlin bullpen. He would earn his first win on April 30th, allowing just one run at Philadelphia, pitching seven innings striking out seven. In June he went on a personal five game win streak, highlighted by a one hitter at Citi Field.
On June 10th he pitched his first complete game shutout; it was a one hit, six strikeout performance, where he walked no one to beat the San Diego Padres. It was just the second time in Mets history that a pitched to one batter above the minimum. At the start of July, his record was at 6-2, & then suffered two straight losses in games he pitched into the 7th inning or beyond.
On July 16th he lost 1-0 in San Francisco ass Barry Zito & the Giants shut out the Mets. On July 27th, he beat the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field, allowing just one run in seven innings. He was 7-4 with a 3.43 ERA, & took a loss to Arizona in his next start.
In his next four starts, Niese allowed just one earned run each time, but despite pitching into the 7th inning three of those times, he got just one win to his credit. In the final two months, he went 2-6, as the team finished fourth at 79-83.
On September 17th in a home game loss to the Atlanta Braves, he allowed six run in a loss but none of them were earned. He finished the year 9-10 with a 4.20 ERA, striking out 148 batters, walking 62 in 173 innings pitched, in 30 games. It was his first full season as a starter & he was named to the Baseball America All Rookie Team.
In 2011 he got the second start of the year in a horrible 11-0 loss to the Phillies in Philadelphia. A terrible April had him at 1-4, but things turned around in May. On May 16th, he got a surprising call as a pinch hitter in an extra inning game against the Florida Marlins. Niese delivered with a triple in a 2-1 game but was stranded, as the tying run on third base when Jose Reyes struck out to end the game. The Mets supported him with nine runs in Colorado, as he earned a 9-5 win over the Rockies.
On May 18th, he shut out the Washington Nationals over seven innings, leading to a seven strike out victory. On May 29th, Neise had another strong outing, pitching shutout ball into the 7th inning, to beat the Phillies for his fourth win.
In late August he suffered an injury to his ribcage which ended his season. Even before the injury, manager Terry Collins had announced he was going to be limited to 180 innings. Niese ended the year at 11-11, second on the club (tied with Chris Capuano) in wins. He struck out 138 batters in 157 innings, walking 44 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 games.
In the off season, Niese got his famous nose job after much ribbing from his team mates. Carlos Beltran even paid to have the procedure done.
It was a physical improvement & also helped him breathe much better as well. He then signed a five year $25 million contract, as the Mets showed him they believed in him & wanted him around in better times.
In his first start of the 2012 season, Niese took a no hitter into the 7th inning, against the Atlanta Braves. In the 7th, he surrendered his first hit to Freddie Freeman & then to batters reach on errors & he allowed another hit, when Terry Collins came out to relieve him. The Mets held on for a 7-5 victory, in the end.
He also started out the year winning his first two decisions, striking out twelve batters in twelve innings with a 2.13 ERA. On June 10th, he struck out a career high ten batters, pitching six innings to beat the St. Louis Cardinals for his fourth win of the year (4-2).
In August he went 3-3 keeping his ERA at 3.55 earning his tenth win of the year, in a five inning shutout performance in Washington. That day the Mets beat the Nats 2-0.
In September, he had his best final month of his career. No injuries & no struggles, as he won three of four games. He ended the season on September 28th, beating the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, allowing just one run in seven innings.
He finished 2012 second on the staff to R.A. Dickey in wins (13-9) strike outs (155) innings (190) starts (30) & ERA (3.40). He even batted .218 second best average among pitchers to Matt Harvey’s .333.
When the Mets lost Johan Santana, Niese was named the Opening Day starter. He pitched into the 7th inning, allowing just two runs in an 11-2 win over the San Diego Padres. In his next start, he allowed one earned run to the Miami Marlins but took another no decision in a 7-3 Mets win.
After winning his second game, he went on a personal four game losing streak, dropping six of seven. He then went down with injury with a patially torn rotator cuff. He chose to rest & rehab instead of have surgery. He returned two months, later in mid August. He had a good comeback, winning three straight decisions, not allowing more than one earned run in three of four August starts. On August 11th, he gave up four runs to the Arizona D-backs but the Mets scored nine runs for him.
On August 16th, he allowed just one run & struck out nine, in a 5-2 win over the Padres in San Diego. On August 21st, in the 6th inning of a game where he allowed just one run, he hit Atlanta's Jason Heyward in the face with a pitch, breaking his jaw. Niese left in the 7th inning with the score tied 1-1, but the Mets lost the game 4-1, as the Braves scored three runs in the 10th inning. Niese struck out nine batters that day as well.
On August 27th, he had his best start of the year; pitching a three hit complete game shutout, striking out five Philadelphia Phillies. His September wasn’t as good as his August, as he went 1-2. After a no decision at Washington, he took a loss at Cleveland when the Indians scored five runs off him in a 9-4 Met loss.
On September 19th, he lost a heartbreaker 2-1 game to Madison Bumgarner & the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Niese had pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with four strike outs.
In 2013 he was 7-8 with a 3.81 ERA, 97 strike outs & 45 walks in 130 innings over 22 games.
In February of 2014 he had discomfort in his shoulder, he was flown to New York had an MRI & nothing was foung wrong. In March he had a second MRI after having more pain, it also came back negative but he missed starting another Opening Day, and pitched his first game on April 6th.
That day he allowed two runs on six hits in 5.2 inngs & took a 1-0 loss to Alfredo Simon & the Cincinnati Reds. After starting the year at 0-2 he beat the St. Louis Cardinals & Philadelphia Phillies in consecutive starts where he pitched into the 6th inning, allowing just one run each time.
On May 5th he pitched seven shut out innings in Miami but took no decision in the 4-3 loss to the Marlins. A month later in June, he had three starts where he pitched into the 7th inning or beyond, never allowing more than two runs in each game, but did not earn any decisions. The Mets bullpen blew two of those games.
In July he suffered from soreness in his shoulder & went on the 15 day DL. He returned & would take four straight losses. On July 21st he gave up 11 hits & four runs to the Mariners in Seattle. He then gave up three rusn or more in his next three starts, including six to the Washinghton Nationals on August 6th. In mid August he won two straight games but then lost his next two.
After a terrible outing in Miami on September 2nd, where he gave up six runs on ten hits in six innings of work, he hab a better final month. Although he had just one victory to his credit, he gave up just four earned runs in his final four games of the year in 26 innings.
In his last start of the season, he removed himself from the game after expierencing an accelerated heart rate. He finished the year with a 9-11 record, matching a career high in losses, matching his 2011 season. He matched career bests in starts 930) & ERA (3.40). Niese struck out 138 batters with 45 walks in 187 pitched.
In 2015 Niese found himself at the back end of a fantastic pitching staff that would be one of the leagues best. With Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Bartolo Colon & the late additions of Noah Syndergaard & Steven Matz, Niese was a man forgotten. His biggest problem has always been when he gets into a jam, the flood gates open and it all comes crashing down on him.
He got the fourth start of the Mets season allowing just one run through eight innings but got no decision in a 5-3 Met loss at Atlanta. His next two starts came at home, he allowed just one run in each of them pitching into the 7th inning. He earned two wins & ha a season low 1.50 ERA.
Over the next two & half months he would struggle earning just one win against eight losses, seeing his ERA rise to over four. In five of those first six starts in starts he allowed four runs or more.
In July & August he would turn things around winning five of six games, On July 6th he had his best outing, pitching eight shut out innings in San Francisco where he struck out four Giants earning the win. Two starts later he pitched into the 8th inning shutting out the Cards in St. Louis but go no decision. On July 30th he threw sin innings at Citi Field allowing one run to beat the San Diego Padres. He followed that with another one run outing in Miami beating the Marlins 5-1 with seven innings pitched & a season high six strike outs.
On August 22nd, the Mets were still red hot starting to run away with the NL East, Niese gave up seven runs in Colorado but still earned a 14-9 win against the Rockies as the Mets belted out 21 hits.
In September, as the Mets were on looking to clinch the NL East, it seemed he hadn't gotten the start in many of the big games. Four straight outings of allowing five runs or more eventually led him to the bullpen. That's where he'd find himself in the post season as well.
For 2015 he went 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA 113 strike outs, 55 walks in 176 innings. He made 29 starts in 33 games, finishing one game. At the plate he had nine hits in 60 at bats (.173 average) with four RBIs.
Post Season: In the post season Neise found himself in the bullpen as Terry Collins went with his four man young pitching stud rotation.
His first appearance came in the NLDS Game #2 in Los Angeles as he struck out pinch hitter Justin Ruggiano in the 6th inning of the Mets 5-2 loss. He appeared in the 6th inning of Game #2 of the NLCS at Citi Field, striking out Anthony Rizzo with a runner on second base to end a Cub threat. The Mets beat Chicago 4-1 in that game.
In the World Series against the Kansas City Royals he made three appearances. His first, came in Game #1 where he pitched two solid shut out innings (the 10th & 11th) while striking out three along the way. The Mets would lose in the 14th inning.
Next he got bombed in Game #2 giving up three runs on three hits in one inning of work in the 7-1 Met loss. In Game #5 he came on in another extra inning performance, throwing a shut out inning as well.
Overall in the post season he appeared in six games, 5.1 innings allowing three runs on five hits, six strike outs & three walks.
In December Niese was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for second baseman Neil Walker. It was a sad day for Niese who was once the promising pitcher of the Mets future, to find himself with no place on the staff. But after just 23 games in Pittsburgh going 8-6, he was traded back to the Mets for reliever Antonio Bastardo.
Niese would see just action in six games for the Mets going 0-1 in two bad starts where he allowed seven runs in five innings combined, before going down for the season with injury. His season ended on August 23rd.
In his nine year career, Niese is 69-68 in 197 starts. He has 914 strike outs & 367 walks in 1189 innings in 211 total appearances.
Family: Jonathan met his wife Leah at a Bonfire with friends in Ohio, when he was rehabbing a torn hamstring back in 2009. The two married in January of 2013 & live in Long Island City.
On Opening Day 2015 she said in an interview that she goes to as many games as she can. She is the superstitious one & wears Mets underwear for good luck.