Niese with the Pirates in 2016 spring training
|Pittsburgh Pirates – No. 18|
October 27, 1986 |
|September 2, 2008, for the New York Mets|
(through July 22, 2016)
|Earned run average||4.01|
Niese was born to Jeffery and Annette Niese in Lima, Ohio, on October 27, 1986, the same day that the Mets won their second World Series. He was brought up in Defiance, Ohio where he attended Defiance High School. He played soccer all four years of high school and was named Third Team All-State during his junior year. In 2004 and 2005, he was named the state's baseball Player of the Year, becoming the first athlete to win the award in consecutive seasons. In Little League (and later in high school), Niese was a teammate of Los Angeles Dodger starting pitcher Chad Billingsley. In the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft, the Mets chose Niese 209th overall (ninth pick of the seventh round).
Niese began his career in the minors in 2005 pitching for the Gulf Coast Mets of the Gulf Coast League, where he pitched in 7 games including 5 starts while earning one win and zero losses. In 2006, Niese was moved up to Single-A where he split time between the St. Lucie Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida and the Hagerstown Suns. In 2007, he pitched the entire season for the St. Lucie Mets where he went 11–7 with a 4.39 earned run average (ERA). In 2008, Niese gained another level beginning the year with the Double-A Binghamton Mets.
New York Mets
Niese made his major league debut on September 2, 2008, against the Milwaukee Brewers. He gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Rickie Weeks. It was the first time in Mets history that a pitcher gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in his career. He ended the day giving up five runs in three innings. In his second start, on September 13, 2008, he earned his first Major League victory pitching eight shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves in a 5–0 victory. In his last start of the season he lost to the Chicago Cubs, ending his inaugural season at 1–1 with a 7.07 ERA in 3 starts.
On May 6, Niese was called up from Triple-A Buffalo Bisons to replace the injured starting pitcher Oliver Perez. His first start of the season was a success. He pitched 6 innings, giving up two runs, no walks, and struck out 5 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On July 25, Niese replaced the injured Fernando Nieve in the starting rotation pitching seven innings and giving up only one run against the Houston Astros. Then on August 5, Niese was injured trying to reach for a ball at first base against the St. Louis Cardinals. After taking a test pitch, he collapsed on his right leg and was taken out of the game. He suffered a complete tear of the hamstring tendon and had season-ending surgery. In 5 major league starts, Niese went 1–1 with a 4.21 ERA in 25.2 innings.
The 2010 campaign was Niese's first full season as major league starter. He finished at 9–10, with a 4.20 ERA in 173.2 innings pitched. He was named one of the five starting pitchers on Baseball America's 2010 All-Rookie Team. The most memorable game of the season was on June 10, when Niese pitched a complete game one-hit shutout against the San Diego Padres. The only hit was a Chris Denorfia double in the third inning. After the game Mets' catcher Rod Barajas said (about Niese) "I can't tell you how impressive and how good this guy can be." The one-hitter was only the second time in New York Mets history that a pitcher has pitched to one batter above the minimum. Niese went on to pitch his second complete game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, yet it was a 5 inning rain shortened game. Niese enjoyed much success nearing the end of August, compiling an 8–5 record with a 3.33 ERA over his first 23 starts. Yet, Niese went 1–5 over his last 7 starts of the season and inflated his ERA to 4.20.
Niese ended his second major league season at 11–11, with a 4.40 ERA in 157.1 innings pitched. His season was cut short after injuring his rib cage on August 23. Before his injury, Terry Collins was going to limit him to 180 innings pitched. To begin the season, Niese struggled posting a 1–4 record through April. Yet, Niese improved to 10–8 through July before faltering in August to end at 11–11.
Before the season began Niese had rhinoplasty performed at the expense of former teammate Carlos Beltrán, who offered to pay for the procedure. Niese has stated that since the procedure his breathing has improved. Jon Niese and the Mets agreed to a 5-year $25.5 million contract extension on April 4. On June 3, Niese struck-out a career high 10 batters against the St. Louis Cardinals to place the Mets in a three-way tie for 1st place.
On September 29, Niese completed his final game of the season with seven innings of one-run ball against the Atlanta Braves, finishing with a 13–9 record and 3.40 ERA. It was the first season that he completed without struggles in September.
Niese was named the Mets opening day starter for 2013 due to an injury to Johan Santana. On August 27 he hit a three-run double and allowed only three hits and one walk over nine scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field, becoming one of only 24 pitchers in the National League to pitch a shutout in the 2013 season. He missed several starts in 2013 due to injuries to his rotator cuff.
Niese began the 2014 season on the disabled list due to inflammation in his pitching elbow. Upon returning from the injury, he performed well in 66 innings pitched but was forced back on the DL again in early July. He finished the season with a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts, rather consistent with his career numbers. In 2014, Niese was the longest-tenured Mets pitcher on the team's roster. Only he and Bobby Parnell remained on the pitching staff from the team's last winning season in 2008.
Niese made adjustments to his pitching motion during Spring Training in order to alleviate some of the strain which had led to injuries to his pitching arm in the past. In a game on April 24 in the Subway Series at New Yankee Stadium in which Niese was not scheduled to appear, he was ejected from the dugout for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Doug Eddings during a Juan Lagares plate appearance. It was Niese's first career MLB ejection.
Niese throws five pitches:
- Four-seam fastball (89–92 mph)
- Two-seam fastball (89–91)
- Cutter (87–89)
- Curveball (73–77)
- Changeup (83–86)
Niese uses all five of his pitches against right-handed hitters, but he tends not to use the two-seamer and changeup against lefties, or in 2-strike counts.
Jon Niese met Leah Eckman, a native of Oregon, Ohio, in July 2009 at a bonfire at Bowling Green State University while he was rehabbing a torn hamstring. The couple was married on January 12, 2013 in Toledo, Ohio. On November 18, 2013 they welcomed their first child, daughter Graylee Mae. On July 24, 2015, Niese started for the Mets at Citi Field against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After pitching 3 innings, Niese retired to the clubhouse where he used FaceTime to watch his wife give birth to the couple's first son, Tatum Jeffrey, in Toledo, Ohio. He has his sons name tattooed on his right inside forearm.
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