Jonathon Niese has apparently got this cold-weather thing figured out.
With a game-time temperature of 51 degrees and ridiculous winds that clearly impacted both starting pitchers, Niese fought his way through 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball to earn his first win of the season.
New York Mets
This was the sixth time in the past two seasons in which Niese was asked to pitch in such cold temperatures at first pitch. In three starts last season, he allowed 10 runs in 17 innings, including days of 34 and 28 degrees in back-to-back starts.
This season, he has allowed four runs in 18 1/3 innings pitched in his three cold-weather starts (50 degrees against the Reds, 45 against the Braves, 51 on Wednesday night).
“I don’t know what it is about Jon Niese and cold-weather games, but he pitched great tonight given the conditions,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Niese improved to 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA against the Cardinals for his career. That's the lowest ERA for any active starter who has made at least five starts against them, just ahead of Francisco Liriano's 1.95.
He has allowed three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings in his past three starts against them.
What’s working for Niese
The key to Niese’s start this season has been the performance of his cutter, and that was true on Wednesday night as well. He threw 13 of 21 for strikes to Cardinals hitters, which netted him seven outs while yielding only two baserunners.
Opponents are now 2-for-20 in at-bats ending with a Niese cutter this season.
Niese also lived on the fortunate side in this game. Cardinals hitters hit eight line drives, but the Mets turned five of them into outs, with three caught by center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Opponents are 12-for-22 when hitting a line drive against Niese this season. That sort of “success” is unlikely to last, given that they hit .735 and .728 on line drives against him the past two seasons.
But then again, the cold weather shouldn’t last either.