After having the worst three and a half month stretch of his Major League career, Jon Niese has been removed from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rotation and moved to their bullpen.
From 2012 through 2015 Jon Niese was one of the steadiest left-handed starting pitchers in the National League. In 697 2/3 innings pitched in that four year stretch Jon Niese posted a 3.65 ERA, 3.88 FIP, and a 3.80 xFIP. Niese also averaged just 2.54 BB/9 and 0.89 HR/9.
However, 2016 has been a totally different story for Jon Niese. In 101 2/3 innings pitched Jon Niese has a career worst 5.13 ERA, 5.49 FIP, and 4.39 xFIP. Niese is also averaging 3.19 BB/9, and has allowed a National League leading 21 home runs.
After this miserable first half, the Pirates announced on Friday afternoon that Jon Niese has been moved to their bullpen. This comes after multiple reports in the last week that the Pirates are trying to trade Jon Niese. It also comes on the same day that Neal Huntington said on The Fan Morning Show that he regrets trading for Niese.
Now that Jon Niese has been moved to the Pirate bullpen, I expect Jameson Taillon to return off the disabled list and to start at some point during the Pirates’ series against the Milwaukee Brewers this week. Then again, I was expecting this to happen anyway.
I look for Neal Huntington to really rev up his efforts to trade Jon Niese now. If Huntington does not find a suitor soon, I believe Jon Niese will be designated for assignment. Especially since the Pirates will have to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Jameson Taillon when he returns from the disabled list.
Removing Jon Niese from the Pirates’ starting rotation is a move that, in my opinion, should have been done two or three weeks ago. However, this is definitely a situation where late is better than never. Honestly, barring a multiple inning affair or a starting pitcher lasting less than four innings in a start this weekend, I will be semi-surprised if Jon Niese ever pitches for the Pittsburgh Pirates again.
Unfortunately for both Jon Niese and the Pirates, Niese’s time in Pittsburgh has not gone well. Furthermore, it seems to be close to ending. This is unfortunate. When the Pirates acquired Jon Niese from the New York Mets I expected him to continue to pitch like a strong middle of the rotation arm. However, I was very wrong.