Jonathon Niese reportedly has two rehab starts remaining before he is ready to rejoin the team. The 26-year-old lefty has been on the DL with a partially torn rotator cuff since June 21. His health, and return to form, are going to be crucial for the Mets success going forward.
Niese is part of the young core of starting pitchers that Sandy Alderson is looking to build this team around. The Mets signed him to a five-year extension after going 13-9 with a 3.40 era in 2012. He appeared to be reaching his potential and looked to be a front of the line starter for years to come.
But, Niese got off to a rocky start in 2013, posting a 3-6 record with a 4.32 era. This was looking more and more like a regression season, leaving many to question just what do the Mets really have in Niese? Then his shoulder issue became public. It was feared intially that he would need surgery. Thankfully, for his own and the Mets sake, it would only require rest to heal his partial tear.
Now Niese will look to prove his early season woes were due merely to injury. These next two months will be important for the Mets to see if their core rotation of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and lets trow Dillon Gee in there as well, can come together down the stretch. With the recent promotion of Jenry Mejia, there is no lack of youthful talent on this roster.
Rafael Montero, despite his recent AAA struggles, could be looking at a September call up as well. Noah Syndergaard, who was an after thought of sorts in the Dickey trade, is also getting more and more high praise with every start he makes.
However, all of these young arms are right-handed, except Jon Niese. That is what makes him so important to this team. It is not necessary, by all means, that you have a lefty in your rotation. But it certainly does help to have one or two on your staff throwing from the other side to give teams a different look throughout a series.
I expect Niese to bounce back when he returns. He has come a long way since he was first called up to the majors and possesses all the stuff to make him a quality pitcher. It was unknown early in his career just what his ceiling is as a starter, I see him sliding back in as the teams number 2 upon his return. But as time goes on, and some of these other young arms develop, I believe Niese will slot himself right in the middle of the rotation.
The Mets may not be making a playoff push this year, but these next two months could be a telling sign of where this rotation can take this franchise in the years to come.