Niese improved to 9-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 23 starts this season.
“It seems like he has a rough [start] and then he gives you exactly what you need, a good outing," Terry Collins said after the game. "Right now to get us back to there we want to be, we need a lot more of it.”
Niese has pitched at least six innings in each of his last 13 starts - he's pitched in 144 2/3 innings and has averaged just under 6 1/3 innings per start this season.
“I might have had a rough game here and there,” Niese explained about his performance this season. “But for the most part I feel like I’ve been working on the things I need to work on and executing when I need to execute. You can’t do it every time, obviously, but for the most part I feel like I’ve been able to do that this year.”
Niese nearly took a no-decision thanks to a shaky performance by the bullpen in the ninth inning - Josh Edgin and Frank Francisco combined to allow four runs before Jon Rauch recorded his second save of the season.
"It was tough [watching the ninth inning], I can't sugarcoat that by any means," he explained. "The [bullpen] got the job done, and that's all that matters. I think we're going to enjoy this win and go after the Reds."
Niese has been most successful this season when he has effectively mixed in both his curveball and cutter from start to finish. He did just that last night and had one of his most impressive outings of the year. In the fourth inning of his start against the Marlins last week, he got burned by his curveball on three separate occasions. Yeah, he didn't execute it well, but he also wasn't particularly creative with his pitch selection either. The adjustment he made after that inning was that he began mixing things up and he left the Marlins befuddled for the most part. It seems as though he carried that adjustment into his start against Atlanta last night, and it worked wonders for him.