Jon Niese hammered for eight runs as ERA rises to 5.93

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When Jon Niese was awarded his first Opening Day assignment this year, the hope was that he would help lead the Mets’ rotation with Johan Santana sidelined and R.A. Dickey in Toronto. However, while Matt Harvey has quickly emerged as that No. 1 guy, Niese hasn’t looked anything close to the same pitcher.

Niese’s early season struggles continued this afternoon against the Pirates, as he was hammered for eight runs on eight hits and three walks over just 4 1/3 innings. The eight runs allowed matched a career-high.

Niese took a nice step forward last year with a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts, but he now has a 5.93 ERA through eight starts. Meanwhile, he has compiled an ugly 21/22 K/BB ratio over 41 innings and has even lost a tick off his velocity. Not what you want to see from someone who averaged 7.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 for his career coming into 2013.

It’s worth noting that Mets manager Terry Collins said Niese was dealing with “a knot” in his back after he gave up seven runs in four innings against the Braves last Sunday. Niese later downplayed the situation, but one wonders whether he has altered his mechanics to compensate for the discomfort. Either way, something isn’t right.

Kenley Jansen gives up two homers, loses game in his return

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Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was activated yesterday after missing ten days due to an irregular heartbeat. He says he feels great. That’s good!

Jansen also allowed back-to-back homers after entering a tie game in the ninth inning of last night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, picking up the loss. Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter did the honors. That’s . . . not so good! At least not for Jansen and the Dodgers.

Jansen said after the game that he was healthy, but that his pitchers were simply flat. One has to assume it’s a matter of rust. And a matter of Matt Carpenter hitting a boatload of homers this year, and at some point there is only so much you can do to stop him. Bad result, of course.