Niese’s release is the latest unwelcome development in what has largely been a solid professional career. The 32-year-old lasted just under three months with the Mariners, who inked him to a minor league contract April 25, and threw 70 1/3 innings of 5.76 ERA ball with a microscopic strikeout rate (4.9 K/9, against 3.1 BB/9) as a member of Tacoma’s roster. It was the first true game action since 2016 for Niese, who – despite spending time with the Yankees in 2017 and the Rangers in ’18 – battled injuries that prevented him from pitching over the previous two seasons.
Niese struggled mightily in his most recent major league season, which he divided between the Pirates and Mets, but otherwise has enjoyed a better MLB career than most pitchers. He posted a 4.07 ERA/4.02 FIP with 6.92 K/9, 2.78 BB/9 and a 50.1 percent groundball rate in 1,189 1/3 innings – almost entirely with the Mets – from 2008-16.
Cloyd’s also 32, though his big league track record is nowhere near as long as Niese’s. In parts of four seasons with the Phillies, Mariners and Marlins from 2012-18, Cloyd totaled just 112 frames and recorded a 6.35 ERA/4.88 FIP with 6.83 K/9, 3.38 BB/9 and a 35.7 percent grounder rate. Cloyd reunited with the Mariners in late April, the same day Niese signed, and proceeded to put up an ugly 7.43 ERA/5.94 FIP in 66 2/3 innings in the difficult Pacific Coast League environment. Cloyd has typically performed far better at the minors’ top level, evidenced by his 4.31 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 653 1/3 Triple-A innings.