Hat tip to Mets Police for bringing this NY Post article that indicates that the Mets may limit Jon Niese’s innings pitched (one good turn deserves another: thanks for linking to my Jason Bay post yesterday guys). It’s a sound move, especially as the Mets continue to tread water at the .500 mark. While I’m quite certain the “Future Hall of Famer” reference came with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Niese is nonetheless a big part of the Mets future. Running up his innings pitched total may or may not impact his future performance (the so-called Verducci Effect has come under scrutiny in the past year and it turns out it may not be the greatest predictor of future health), but why take the chance in what is turning out to be a non-competitive season?
Some minor quibles with Mike Puma’s article: while Niese did pitch 164 innings in the minors in 2008, his total innings pitched that season was actually 178 (when you factor in his time on the major league roster). Also, he pitched a total of 120 innings last season (factoring in those pesky thirds of an inning) and he’s logged 139 innings this season (he made one start for Buffalo in April).
That being said, there are 40 games left in this season. Without studying the current arrangement of the rotation, let’s assume that would leave him with eight starts. He probably wouldn’t throw five complete games, but if you assume that he throws five quality starts, that would result in him throwing 187 total innings this season (five seven-inning starts would give him 195, five five-inning starts would give him 179).
As you can see, there’s some maneuverability available for the Mets here. Personally, I’d let Niese make his next three starts (running him up to about 160 innings), call up Dillon Gee to take his place in the rotation, and spot Niese out of the bullpen to let him finish somewhere around 170-175 innings pitched. Do I trust Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen to behave accordingly? Of course not.
Given his recent injury history and the Mets’ fall from contention, the plan to limit Niese’s innings pitched is sound. How the Mets go about executing it (if they do it at all) bares watching. Here’s hoping it all works out: I look forward to watching Jon Niese pitch for the Mets for years to come.