PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 23: Manager Terry Collins #10 of the New York Mets talks with pitcher Jonathon Niese #49 after being pulled form the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 23, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 9-4. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
The Mets placed starting pitcher Jon Niese on the 15-day disabled list with what the club described in a press release as "an intercostal strain of the right side." To fill Niese's spot, the Mets recalled catcher Mike Nickeas from Triple-A Buffalo. Nickeas will be available for today's matinee against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Niese left after the fourth inning of yesterday's 9-4 shellacking by Philadelphia after aggravating an injury he accrued while taking practice swings in San Diego last week. Not counting his shortened outing against Philly on Tuesday evening, Niese had arguably emerged as the de-facto ace of the Mets' starting rotation by posting a 3-3 record since the All-Star break with a 4.50 ERA and only one outing in which he'd accrued less than five strikeouts (again last week in San Diego).
So who replaces him in the rotation? One would think we'll all meet Pat Misch once again or perhaps witness the Major League debut of Chris Schwinden as the Mets possess few alternatives in the bullpen this side of D.J. Carrasco. Niese's DL visit will carry past September 1, meaning his replacement will likely stick around when rosters expand next month.
In the interim, the Mets get a third look at the light-hitting Nickeas, who has hit .217 (5-23) with one double, one home run and three RBI in nine games this year with the Mets. How he fits into the crowded backstop situation with Josh Thole and Ronny Paulino is anyone's guess, though Nickeas's presence will add another catcher to the roster if Paulino's broken toe lands him on the disabled list. According to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, Paulino is expected to be able to pinch-hit until a doctor says otherwise.