Niese moves to 'pen with eye on postseason

Mets lefty to pitch in relief during final week with hope of making playoff roster

Niese moves to 'pen with eye on postseason

CINCINNATI -- Before uncorking his first bottle of champagne, Jon Niese tracked down his manager, Terry Collins, to tell him he is willing to move to the bullpen.

For Niese, the situation was plain to see: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz project as a dynamite four-man postseason rotation, and even Bartolo Colon has been pitching better than him in recent weeks. But one of the longest-tenured Mets still wants to be part of the team going forward, so Niese told Collins he is willing to do whatever it takes.

"It's just one of those things where I want to do anything to help the team," said Niese, who has just one relief appearance on top of 177 career starts. "There is a need down there."

Beyond their back-end trio of Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed, the Mets still have plenty of questions in their bullpen -- and Niese, who owns a 6.69 ERA in his last seven starts, is no lock to be among the answers. He and Colon both have strong chances to make the roster as relievers, as does Hansel Robles. But including all of them would leave just one spot for Sean Gilmartin, Logan Verrett, Erik Goeddel and Carlos Torres.

Those decisions will take place over the next week or so, after the Mets finalize their postseason rotation. Collins said Sunday that deGrom, Harvey and Syndergaard are all locks, with Colon and Matz in the running for the final spot. But Collins also noted that he does not want to toy with Matz's fragile health by putting him in the bullpen, making him an ever greater favorite to round out the rotation than he already would have been.

Regardless of who grabs the final starting job, Niese's move to the bullpen will occur immediately; the Mets have already scratched him from his next scheduled start Tuesday in Philadelphia, moving both Colon and Matz up a day and slotting Verrett in to start Thursday.

Anything to help, Niese says.

"It's been a long wait," he continued. "It's been a long seven years for me, for the guys, for the fans, for everyone. From here to the end of the season, I'll just go down there and try to figure out a routine."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.