For the first time since 2011, Jon Niese pitched in a game he didn't start. The Mets' starter is being asked to pitch out the bullpen in the postseason, and the team is using these last six games to get him adjusted to his new role. It wasn't a smooth ride, but Niese felt comfortable coming on in relief.
"Today it was good," said Niese, who soon will be asked to pitch on consecutive days. "I was able to get loose quick. I felt great and my stuff was there."
The process for Niese's transition will including pitching on back-to-back days and entering a game with runners on. In 1.2 innings last night, Niese allowed three hits and left with runners on the corners and two outs. Erik Goeddel came in and allowed one of those inherited runners to score.
With the playoff rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz set—contingent on Matz's sleeping habits—Niese found himself out of a spot. But with a bullpen that has only three guaranteed spots—Jeruys Famila, Tyler Clippard, and Addison Reed—Niese has an opportunity to help the team pitching out of the pen.
The Mets may shift Bartolo Colon to the pen as well, meaning these next five games are crucial for getting these pitchers comfortable in their new roles for playoff baseball.