In 2012, Jon Niese followed up a good 3.77 kwERA 2011 season and a (arbitration buy out) contract extension with a 3.79 kwERA season in 190.1 innings. However, his 2013 season has been a disaster so far, with a 5.46 kwERA, more walks than strikeouts. Reports say that he is dealing with a sore or injured neck. I wanted to see if this showed up in Pitch F/X data, and I thought this might show up in his release point, or location, so the following graph shows his average release point for 2012 and 2013, along with his average location of all pitches thrown:
Strangely, he was throwing the ball higher on average in 2012, the problem isn't that he can't keep the ball low this season, and he was working basically the same horizontally in the zone. With the release point, our release point comparison chart is not very helpful, as there is no pitcher that is a good comparison for Niese now, and the only one at his release point in 2012 was closest, though not real close, to Francisco Liriano. The big thing you notice though is that it has moved, which I think is more important. He is releasing the ball at a shorter height (even though he was already releasing the ball short height wise comparatively), and further out, which is almost never good move.
The release point issue seems to be a good explanation for his problems (or more accurately, the visual manifestation of his neck issue), but it may still be informative to check in on his stuff: