I know it sounded like I was throwing cold water on Niese yesterday, but I am really very high on him. There's just no way he should be on the major league team to start the year.
That said, every time I see him, I'm more and more impressed. In fact, I'll go so far as to say this: whatever your projections for Niese (conventional wisdom says 3rd starter at best) - move him up a slot. He's got that same intangible "It" that Big Game Johnny Maine has. Of course he wasn't poised in the 5th today, he's inexperienced. I think - given time, Jon Niese will be an anchor in the middle of the Mets rotation.
His mound presense, that poise he's got - it's uncanny. You can't teach it (see Pelfrey, Mike). Barring injury and/or trade, Jon Niese will be a very good pitcher for the Mets.
From what I saw today, he's got an out pitch vs lefties with that big 12-6 curve, and is developing an out pitch vs righties with his changeup (which I saw around 78-82). I'm not quite sure what he was throwing in the 5th that was clocking 85,86, whether he was overthrowing his change, or if that was his fastball (which sits 88-92), but it was clear he ran out of steam. Even still, he didn't let the inning completely get away from him, and got a grounder for a DP. In my opinion, he was getting squeezed a bit in the 5th, too.
Overall, I'd rate this outing a very solid B, considering his youth, inexperience, and level pitched last year. He's a keeper. For sure.