General manager Jon Daniels was not lying when he said the Texas Rangers would continue adding pitching depth. What kind of impact can veteran lefty Jon Niese have on the Rangers roster?
The 31-year-old did not pitch in the Major Leagues last season, but has been signed as depth. The Rangers have now increased their Spring Training roster to 62. They must cut that down to only 25 players before Opening Day.
During his nine-year career Niese is 69-68 with a 4.07 ERA in 211 games (197 starts) between two organizations. Niese spent almost his entire career with the New York Mets, but pitched in 23 games for the Pirates in 2016.
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This signing is not going to blow anyone away, and neither will Niese who averages 88-90 mph on his fastball. He is not an overpowering pitcher, but tends to get ground balls with his cut fastball, curve, changeup combo.
Niese has never been an All-Star, but has been reliable throughout his career. He won’t be the ace, but could fill-in nicely in the back-end of the Rangers rotation. Niese has been a workhorse throughout his career.
It’s a low risk signing by Texas that gives them much-needed depth. Other moves are likely coming, but this is a smart signing by the front office. There is still more work to do, but Niese could be the “Andrew Cashner” of 2018.