New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese looks into his...

New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese looks into his dugout after Philadelphia Phillies' Placido Polanco hit a one run double in the third inning of a baseball game. (April 7, 2011) Credit: AP

If ever a team needed a quality start from its pitcher, it would be the Mets on Tuesday.

With their bullpen already gasping for a breather and the team having lost five of its last six, they’ll hand the ball to Jon Niese for tonight’s game against the Rockies (7:10 p.m. start).

Is there added pressure on Niese to eat up innings, give the bullpen a bit of a rest, and stop the team from skidding?

“I’m not hitting the panic button,” he told Newsday on Monday night after the 7-6 loss to the Rockies. “I’m not going to put that pressure on myself. It’s just going to be a regular start and I want to go as deep as I can.”

In his last outing Niese lasted just four innings, allowing six runs and eight hits in an 11-0 loss to the Phillies.

“I had a rough one last time,” he said, “but that’s in the past now, that’s forgotten about, and I have to worry about getting the Rockies out.”