Tonight, the Phillies defeated the Mets by a score of 9-4.Back in June, I went to Arlington, TX to watch the Mets play an interleague game against the Texas Rangers. As a resident of the vast suburbs of Dallas, I relished the rare chance to see the Mets, on the road, in person. On that day, Jon Niese started. He pitched very well before being removed with a well-chronicled rapid heartbeat. While he was in, he was dominant. The Rangers fan behind me said, as only a Texan can, "Boy throwin' darts." And he was right. Niese was zipping 92 MPH fastballs over the edges of the plate all game long.Tonight, Niese had his velocity. But he didn't throw darts. He was over the middle of the plate. In other words, he didn't have his command. Niese allowed 8 runs on 10 hits over 4+ innings, dropping his record to 11-11, and raising his ERA to 4.40. Another young pitcher (Niese is 24 years old) who appears to have worn out at the end of the year. Jon worked hard to get in shape prior to the season, citing last year's collapse, but as commendable as his work ethic was, it couldn't make up for years of poor preparation in the Mets Minor League system. This is not Niese's fault, but the fault of the organization. They clearly have not done enough to prepare their young pitchers for the Major League grind.
On offense, the Mets squandered opportunities early, getting men on base with less than 2 outs in the 1st and 2nd innings without scoring. The batters (See: Ruben Tejada and Nick Evans) got away with taking close pitches with 2 strikes, but didn't learn that they had to protect the outside corner, and struck out looking on pitches they should have at least tried to fight off. Considering this team is made up of AAA players, perhaps baseball 101 mistakes can be forgiven. But you would think even AAA players know the basics.If you're looking for a bright spot, Lucas Duda is an excellent reason to continue to watch the Mets. Mark this day: Paul Festa predicts that Duda will be a consistent 40 HR threat beginning in 2012 if he is allowed to play every day. He's like Adam Dunn, but with a better approach at the plate.For the Phillies, Vance Worley (9-1) continued to impress, going 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits, while walking 1 and striking out 9. Philadelphia is deep in pitching. "The Abyss" deep. Shane Victorino and John Mayberry led the offense with a home run each off of Niese.It all adds up to another loss for the depleted New York Mets. Look at it this way. Either they can improve in 2012, or the world will come to an end, as per the Mayans. I'm voting for the former.A Late Note: It looks like Niese and Scott Hairston will both be heading to the DL with rib injuries. I stand by what I said about this organization's lack of physical preparation for young starting pitchers, however. Proper conditioning can prevent injuries such as these.