Back in April Jon Niese was the one starting pitcher the Mets assumed they could depend on. Matt Harvey had yet to spend a complete season in the majors. Dillon Gee was coming off surgery to remove a blood clot in his shoulder. Shaun Marcum had an extensive history of arm injuries. Jeremy Hefner was unproven.

Niese the lone left-hander of the clan was selected as the Opening Day starter. Expectations following a breakout 2012 season were high. But by June his season appeared lost. A partially torn rotator cuff was threatening to torpedo the campaign. He feared worse; he feared his career. He has since emphatically eliminated those concerns.

Tuesday night in perhaps his final start of the season Niese muzzled a potent Reds offense still scratching for homefield advantage in next week’s National League Wild Card game in the Mets’ 4-2 win. The native of Defiance Ohio a three-hour drive from Great American Ball Park evaded early jams and surrendered just two runs on eight hits over seven innings. He constructed the quality outing in front of around 20 relatives and friends.

Since returning from the disabled list August 11 Niese has posted a 3.00 earned-run average in 60 innings and pitched at least six innings in eight of his nine outings.

“Ever since he’s come back he’s pitched as good as I’ve ever seen Jon Niese throw in the time I’ve been here” Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Like his season the outing got off to a bumpy start. The first two pitches he threw to Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips were stroked for singles. Two batters later Ryan Ludwick slapped another single.

But Niese managed to hold the Reds scoreless in the first frame in large part to center fielder Juan Lagares who threw out Choo at home plate on Ludwick’s single. It was Lagares’s 13th outfield assist of the season tying a Mets franchise record.

“It’s kind of crazy” said Niese who walked one and struck out six. “The first five hits were groundballs.”

Daniel Murphy provided the bulk of the run support. The second baseman swatted a two-run home run his career-high 13th home run of the season and netted three runs batted.

Despite his recent success the Mets have not decided whether Niese (8-8 3.74 ERA) will make another start in 2013. His turn should be Sunday the final day of the regular season but Collins said he would discuss the matter with Niese sometime in the next couple days.

When prodded to explain what could prevent the left-hander from pitching Sunday Collins wouldn’t divulge details.

“Lots of factors” Collins said. “How he feels. Different things.”