New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed that left-hander Jon Niese will compete for a spot in the bullpen.
Niese, who spent eight years with the New York Mets from 2008-15 and then again for six games last season, will compete for a spot in the bullpen in what will probably be long relief.
The 30-year-old has just 14 games in relief under his belt and has surrendered 12 runs in 18.1 innings of work (5.89 ERA). In his first eight games of relief in 2016, Niese maintained a 2.03 ERA averaging 1.6 innings per appearance.
Judging by this confirmation, it doesn’t look like the Yankees envision their latest addition to start over any of the youngsters unless injuries completely derail the starting rotation.
Remember, though, Niese was only inked on a minor league deal so there is no guarantee that he’ll beat out Adam Warren, or whoever loses out on the final two rotation spots, for a long relief role in the Bronx.
In 197 career starts, Niese owns an even record of 68-68 including a 4.04 ERA. His best season was in 2012, when he went 13-9 for the Mets, but it appears that his ceiling on the 2017 Yankees will be a candidate to help bridge the gap from a rotation that averaged 5.6 innings last season to the deadly duo in Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.
It’s not surprising that Girardi did not consider him as a lefty specialist, as left-handed batters slashed .304/.383/.504 in 142 plate appearances off Niese in 2016.
Girardi: Jon Niese is competing for a spot in the bullpen
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 20, 2017