Right-hander Jon Lieber looks to build on the five-hitter he threw against the Mets on Aug. 16 as the Phillies and Mets battle again tonight. For the Mets, Oliver Perez will replace Tom Glavine's turn in the rotation.
Lieber (6-9, 5.04) has faced the Mets three times this season and is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA. The 36-year-old right-hander has been a hot hand since the trade deadline, and a big reason why the Phillies find themselves just 1.5 games back of Cincinnati in the Wild Card race. The Reds play game two of their series with San Francisco after losing 4-1 Friday night.
Speaking of unsung heroes, Ryan Madson has been a key contributor in his new/old role out of the Phillies bullpen. Madson notched his second save last night in a tight 4-3 win against the Mets, and has been very effective since rejoining the bullpen.
Shane Victorino has been another unsung sparkplug since the trade of outfielder Bobby Abreu. The Flyin’ Hawaiian has nine multi-hit games this month, and is hitting .305 with 16 runs scored, primarily out of the No. 2 hole.
Ryan Howard was last night’s star performer. The Howitzer hit his league-leading 45th homer and drove in three runs, giving him an NL-best 117 RBIs. After the game, pitcher Randy Wolf touted him for MVP.
On the other side, Oliver Perez (2-10, 6.63 ERA) was called up from Triple-A to replace Tom Glavine, and is making his first start since the trade that sent him from the Pirates to the Mets. Perez has been an erratic pitcher this season, and particularly brutal against right-handed hitters, so this is another good opportunity for the Phils to cash in.
They’ll stack the lineup with RH bats, including the first Phillies outfield start for recent acquisition Jose Hernandez. Hernandez will play right field and bat sixth. Pat Burrell also returns to the lineup against the left-hander, as does Chris Coste, Lieber’s catcher of choice.