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Jonathon Joseph Niese
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 4", Weight 215 lb.
- High School Defiance High School
- Debut September 2, 2008
Niese was born on the day the Mets won the 1986 World Series. He made his major league debut with the Mets locked in a tight pennant race with the Philadelphia Phillies on September 2, 2008, in a start facing the Milwaukee Brewers. It was a rough welcome for Niese, as he was lit up for 5 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks in 3 innings; however, the team's hitters bailed him out and he escaped with a no-decision when the Mets won the game in extra innings. He was 1-1 with a 7.07 ERA in 3 starts, then in 2009 made 5 starts, also with a 1-1 record, but a much better ERA at 4.21.
Niese was solid in his first full season with the Mets in 2010, making 30 starts with a 9-10 record and a 4.20 ERA. He struck out 148 in 173 2/3 innings, while walking 62.
On May 16, 2011 Niese got an unlikely triple as a pinch-hitter for Ryota Igarashi in the 11th inning of a game against the Florida Marlins. Niese was sent to face Marlins closer Leo Nunez with two outs and the Mets trailing 2-1, the result of fellow pitcher Burke Badenhop's run-scoring single in the top of the frame. Both teams were running out of available players by that point of the context, which explains why the pitchers had to wield the lumber in pressure situations. However, after his heroic triple, Niese was left stranded when Nunez struck out Jose Reyes to end the game. He was 11-11, 4.40 in 27 games for the Mets during the season and was rewarded for two solid years with a long-term contract worth $25.5 million.
In his first start of the 2012 season on April 8th, Niese took a no-hitter into the 7th inning before giving up a hit to Freddie Freeman and failing in his bid to be the first pitcher to throw the elusive no-hitter in his team's fifty-year history (teammate Johan Santana would finally end that famine a few weeks later). He was taken out of the game after the next two batters reached on an error and another hit, and the Atlanta Braves roared back with a four-run inning, but the Mets held on for a 7-5 win, the Braves having scored all their runs on only 3 hits. He signed a five-year contract extension for $25.5 million a few days later and made 30 starts during the season, proving to be the Mets' most effective starter after Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. He finished the year at 13-9, 3.40 and pitched a career-high 190 1/3 innings. However, he also had trouble with heart arrhythmia during the season and was preparing to undergo surgery at the end of the year, in which doctors would have removed a part of the heart muscle to correct the problem. In the end, however, he elected not to undergo the surgery after his physicians reassured him that his problem was relatively minor and did not require such a drastic procedure.
Niese was named the Mets' Opening Day starter on April 1, 2013 following the departure of Dickey and injuries to Santana and Shaun Marcum. He had a great start, giving up 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings, while gathering a pair of hits and walk, scoring a run and driving in one, as the Mets defeated the San Diego Padres, 11-2.
On December 9, 2015, Niese was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for 2B Neil Walker. His stay with the Pirates was short-lived however. He made 23 appearances for the Bucs in 2016, including 18 starts, and went 8-6 with an ERA of 4.91 in 110 innings. On August 1st, he was sent back to the Mets, in return for reliever Antonio Bastardo, one of three veterans traded away by Pittsburgh at the deadline. However, he only pitched 6 times for the Mets, including a pair of starts, and went 0-1, 11.45 before undergoing an operation for a torn meniscus in his knee. He became a free agent shortly after the end of the season.