Jon Niese will start the series finale against the D-backs at Chase Field tonight.
Niese traded to the Pirates this past off season for Neil Walker, then re-acquired from Pittsburgh for LH reliever Antonio Bastardo on Aug. 1.
"When I first read about it, I was kind of shocked," Niese said about returning to the Mets, according to ESPN.com's Adam Rubin. "At the same time, I know here. I know New York. I'm comfortable. I've had success here. So I can see where they're coming from, too."
In 18 starts for the Pirates earlier this season, Niese was 7-6 with a 5.13 ERA. He was later reassigned to the bullpen, where he was initially used by the Mets in early August.
"It was a horrible feeling being bumped from the rotation, but I feel like I'm in a good spot now," Niese said of his time in Pittsburgh, according to Rubin. "I'm definitely a lot more comfortable in the rotation -- being able to get a set routine in between pitching. I think it will progressively get better from here."
Niese is starting tonight in place of Logan Verrett, who was recently demoted to Triple-A after going 0-3 with a 7.18 ERA in seven starts as a starting pitcher filling in for the injured Matt Harvey.
The Mets had planned to have Zack Wheeler back from Tommy John surgery to fill out in the rotation during July. However, multiple set backs and an elbow examination today have kept Wheeler sidelined and put his season in jeopardy.
Niese, who is currently 10th in wins all-time among Mets starting pitchers, was signed to a five-year, $25.5 million extension by Sandy Alderson in 2012. He has a $500,000 buyout or $10 million team option for 2017, and an $11 million option for 2018.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head when first hearing that the Mets re-acquired Niese. However, he is actually a good fit, all things considered. I've been hard on Niese as a starting pitcher. But, with his four-pitch arsenal, experience in New York, and willingness to pitch in the pen, he's less of a gamble than most other acquisitions. Also, I'm sure he has to have a little extra motivation to prove the Mets wrong (for trading him away) and right (for bringing him back).
Verrett had his good and bad moments. He was always best suited for the bullpen, but thrust in to the rotation when Harvey went down with Wheeler not ready to return. He seemingly did the best he could do given the situation. The fact is, neither pitcher has been much help in a starting role this season. However, if Niese can get back to what he did for the Mets in 2015, as weak as that might have been, it'd be in the step up from what they've been getting out of the fifth slot this season.