If there were any worries from New York Mets fans that Jon Niese would be bogged down by any ill effects stemming from the scary-looking incident on Wednesday involving a comebacker and the lefty’s right leg, those fears were quickly put to rest when the hurler took the mound on Sunday.
How? With a string of zeroes, as Niese bounced back from his last abbreviated outing doing what he’s done for the majority of his young 2013 season thus far — put up quality starts.
Sure, it wasn’t always pretty, as the defense behind the 26-year old looked a little shaky at times (Niese contributed a throwing error just for good measure), but the Mets’ No. 1 pitcher (even if he’s not the ace) was steady, allowing just a pair of runners to step on second base through the first five frames.
Okay, so one of those was a solo home run, but still, that the team wound up losing 5-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies and completed their ride on the wrong end of a series sweep was hardly his fault.
Not when Niese had given up just five hits and a walk through 6.2 innings of work, and especially not when two of his three total runs allowed stepped across the plate due to elements outside his control (ie. John Buck‘s catching error that should have ended the seventh inning, followed by Scott Atchison‘s poor attempt at stranding inherited runners.
So while the Mets end up continuing their losing ways, what they got on the mound today was progress as far as their starter goes.
What do I mean? Well, there’s the 113 pitches that represents the most that Niese has thrown in any of his six starts thus far, and there’s also the fact that he got closer to seven complete innings pitched than in all but his 2013 debut.
Sunday was also just the second time of the season that he’s allowed one walk on the day, which lowered his previous 4.15 BB/9 down to a 3.58, and closer to the 2.32 that he showed the Mets last year in a 2.3 fWAR season.
The strikeouts (4.68 K/9) still haven’t come around yet, but hey, it’s one step at a time, right? Now if only the Mets offense can start to do the same after a 28th ranked 23-run stretch over the last seven days …