New York Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese is headed back to New York to have an MRI on his sore left shoulder, according to BIll Price of the New York Daily News
Niese suffered shoulder problems last season as well, which limited him to 24 starts for the Mets in 2013. The left-hander hit the DL last May with shoulder tendinitis before ultimately being diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff in June. The injury landed Niese on the DL for all of July and the beginning of August.
The 27-year-old was still effective when he did pitch, however. Niese finished the season with a 3.71 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 143 innings pitched. This came after a 2012 season in which Niese made 30 starts for the Mets, posting a 3.40 ERA during his third full season in the majors.
Niese was especially effective down the stretch in 2013, compiling a 3.00 ERA and nearly four times as many strikeouts as walks over 10 starts in August and September. Expected to be one of the Mets' top starters this season, Niese's MRI puts his availability for Opening Day in serious question.
The Mets will already be without their top starter Matt Harvey for the upcoming campaign, as the right-hander recovers from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in October. Harvey did throw for the first time since the surgery last Saturday, but he isn't expected to be ready to pitch in the majors again until late this season at the earliest.
Niese's status is far more uncertain at the moment, and considering the shoulder problems he struggled with in 2013, this latest bout of soreness is not a good sign for the six-year veteran.
The Mets did sign Bartolo Colon to a contract this offseason, and also have incumbents Dillon Gee, Zach Wheeler, and Jenrry Mejia to fill out the rest of the rotation. If Niese is out for an extended period of time, John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka will be next up to fill his rotation spot.
The Mets also have top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard knocking on the door in the minors, though the team would rather him get some more seasoning down in Triple-A before calling him up later this summer.
For now, Niese will undergo an MRI in New York, and both he and the Mets will wait to see the results before any decisions are made.