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This is a very important season for Jonathon Niese.
The talented southpaw started the season opener last year for the Mets but faltered in his role as ace of the staff before Matt Harvey's ascension into All-Star Game starter.
In the first half of 2013, Niese struggled to a 3-6 ledger with a 4.32 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 14 starts. Not only that, but he also was placed on the disabled list with a partially torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder.
His 2013 season was starting to look like a disaster.
However, after missing nearly two months, Niese returned to the mound on Aug. 11 and fashioned a very effective second half. In 10 second-half starts, the lefty compiled a 5-2 record with a 3.00 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
All in all, Niese went 8-8 with a 3.71 ERA last season. His strong post-All-Star performance should give him a boost of confidence heading into the 2014 campaign. More importantly, he's healthy again.
The Mets are counting on him.