Niese took a loss in his last start when he allowed three runs and six hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings to the Astros at Citi Field. Still, Niese is 3-2 with a 2.29 ERA in four starts in the month of August, and his last outing marked the 15th consecutive start Niese has walked two batters or less in a game - he has gone at least six innings in each of those 15 starts. Niese is making his fifth start of the year against the Phillies today, and he's 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in 24 innings against them.
Kyle Kendrick (7-9, 4.12 ERA) will start for the Phillies this afternoon.
Kendrick has picked his season up as of late, winning his last three starts while allowing only two runs in 21 2/3 innings over that span. Kendrick spent all of July in the Phillies bullpen, but is making his sixth start during the month of August today, and is 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA this month. The Mets have roughed Kendrick up in two relief appearances this season - he's allowed six runs in only 2 1/3 innings against New York in 2012.
Niese was a little flat in his last start, but he was able to manage his outing despite not being on top of his game. That is something he had struggled with in the past, even earlier this season. But his ability to throw strikes, limit his pitch count, and stay ahead of the hitters has helped prevent the crooked numbers he's often allowed when he's been off. That's a sign of growth from Niese, and something the Mets need from him at this stage of his career.