Earlier this season, New York Mets starting pitcher Jon Niese earned acclaim for being one of the most dependably excellent hurlers to toe the rubber. Of late, Niese has maintained his reliability, but he has been reliable for all the wrong reasons. Now one can reasonably count on Niese to go out and give the Mets a handful of abysmally pitched innings that make it nearly impossible for the Mets to earn a victory. He is more liability than contributor these days, and the Mets win-loss record continues to bear the brunt of his uninspired efforts. On Saturday against the Miami Marlins, Niese was once again front and center of a Mets defeat as the Mets went down to the Marlins by the final score of 9-5.
As Niese’s pitch total continued to mount during his 4.0-inning appearance, more and more there was an air of resignation permeating his performance. It did not really matter which pitch Niese threw or how much he attempted to will himself to throw the kind of effective pitches that would have saved him from having his offerings crushed time and time again by the Marlins hitters; it was not enough. He came up far too short in too many areas to even dream of salvaging his start and giving the rest of his teammates something on which they could hope to build a victory.
In the aforementioned 4.0 innings of work, Niese wrecked the Mets’ win probability by giving up seven hits to the 20 batters that he faced, putting far too many hitters on base and allowing his pitches to be driven with too much authority. Of those seven hitters that he gifted with a passage to the base paths, five of them came around to score, with three of the runs coming off of the two home runs that he allowed. When it came to missing bats, Niese did not do it often enough and he paid for it with the batting average he allowed on balls in play and his home run to flyball ratio. Niese was a bit unlucky during his start when it came to giving up two home runs on four fly balls, but there is nothing in Niese’s recent past to suggest that he still possesses the ability to keep opposing hitters from blasting his pitches over the fences.
By the time Niese had thrown his final pitching of the afternoon, the Mets were down 5-1 and held a microscopic win probability of 10.5 percent; one who enjoys engaging in understatement would say that the Mets’ prospects did not look very bright. But the Mets hitters did everything they could to save Niese’s bacon and give him a reason not to feel so dreadful about his terrible performance. As is their wont when it comes to the fourth inning, the Mets offense poured it on and staged an impressive comeback. In the fourth inning, the Mets hitters combined for four hits and one walk to score four runs, with the RBI hits coming courtesy of Curtis Granderson, who knocked in one run, and Ruben Tejada’s bases-clearing double that was the most valuable Mets hit of the contest.
Unfortunately, the Mets’ spirited fourth-inning offense performance was for naught. While they did an outstanding job of nullifying Niese’s poor pitching, what they did not account for was that the Mets pitching staff was not done being terrible just because Niese was no longer pitching. And helping further drive home the point that five runs were not even going to be close enough to secure a victory were Mets relievers Hansel Robles and Alex Torres. Robles was especially damaging to the Mets with his pitching as the two runs he surrendered in the seventh inning after allowing three hits and issuing a walk dropped the Mets’ win probability from 50.0 percent at the beginning of the frame to 17.3 percent by its end. Torres would put then put the kibosh on any hopes that the Mets might have of staging another rally by giving up two solo home runs in the ninth inning.
The Mets’ defeat on Saturday was the opposite from what one usually expects a Mets loss to look like. Normally, one would expect that it would be the offense holding the team back from a win, but against the Marlins on Saturday, it was the offense who was ready to contribute to a win and the pitching which would simply not let the victory materialize for the Mets.