Looking to bolster an already solid pitching staff, the Philadelphia Phillies will have newly acquired reliever Mike Williams in the bullpen when they open a two-game series with the New York Mets at Veterans Stadium.
Philadelphia, which owns the second-best ERA in the majors at 3.49, acquired Williams and cash from the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league reliever Frank Brooks on Sunday.
Williams went 1-3 with 25 saves and a 6.27 ERA in 40 games for the Pirates, and represented them at this year’s All-Star game.
The right-hander will be used in a setup role for closer Jose Mesa, who has a contract that automatically vests for 2004 if he finishes 55 games.
“I think we’re adding strength to a strength,” Phillies general manager Ed Wade said. “Jose is still the closer, but we got a guy with experience pitching in tight situations.”
Williams pitched for the Phillies from 1992-96, going 13-25 in 99 games, including 54 starts.
“I’m happy to be back and to be playing for a contending team,” said Williams, the Phillies 14th round pick in 1990. “I’m going to have a chance to get into the playoffs, and that’s what it’s all about. That’s where I started— in Philadelphia.”
The Phillies lead the NL wild card standings by two games after Sunday’s 3-2 home win over Montreal. They took three of four from the Expos, winning for the eighth time in 10 games overall.
Philadelphia starting pitchers have compiled a 2.02 ERA in the last 10 games. Brett Myers allowed two runs over 8 2-3 innings in Sunday’s win.
“The starters have been doing their jobs and Brett has been a big part of that,” Pratt added. “Those guys are showing experience and talent and that makes the bullpen even nastier.”
The Mets bullpen had an eighth-inning meltdown in Sunday’s 11-8 loss at Atlanta as New York suffered a four-game sweep against the Braves.
New York gave up nine runs—eight earned—in the eighth inning, raising its relievers’ combined ERA 19 points to 4.43.
The last-place Mets have lost 10 of 11.
STANDINGS: Mets - 5th place, 25 GB, NL East. Phillies - 2nd place, 9 1/2 GB, NL East.
METS PROBABLE STARTER: Aaron Heilman (0-2, 7.17 ERA). The rookie right-hander is coming off the worst of his four starts, allowing eight runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings as the Mets lost 10-3 to the Phillies on July 11. It was his first career start against Philadelphia. Heilman has a 14.04 ERA in his last two starts.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Brandon Duckworth (3-3, 4.76 ERA). Duckworth was solid in a 4-2 win over the Mets on July 12, allowing one run and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander did not receive a decision as the team rallied to win in 11 innings. Duckworth hasn’t won since May 17 at Houston. He is 0-2 in his last eight starts despite allowing two runs or fewer six times. In six career starts against the Mets, Duckworth is 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mets - Cliff Floyd, .271 avg., 15 HRs and 49 RBIs; Ty Wigginton, 52 runs; Roger Cedeno, 7 SBs. Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .321 avg.; Jim Thome, 23 HRs, 67 RBIs and 61 runs; Rollins, 11 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: 5-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mets - SS Jose Reyes is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with runners in scoring position this season. … C Jason Phillips’ solo homer Sunday improved his hitting streak to eight games, during which he has a .400 average (12-for-40). … The nine hits allowed in the eighth inning Sunday was a season high, eclipsing the seven allowed on May 24 in Atlanta. Phillies - OF Abreu is hitting .571 (8-for-14) on the current homestand. … The Phillies are 37-6 when scoring first and 22-5 when they score in the first inning. … SS Jimmy Rollins, who missed his third straight game with a strained hamstring Sunday, is expected back in the lineup Monday. … The Phillies are 14 games over .500 for the first time since August 16, 2001 when they were 67-53.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mets - 20-29 on the road; Phillies - 29-21 at home.
INJURIES: Mets - C Mike Piazza (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Pedro Astacio (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Grant Roberts (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Strickland (groin), 60-day DL; 1B Mo Vaughn (knee), 60-day DL. Phillies - 3B David Bell (back), 15-day DL; RHP David Coggin (shoulder), 15-day DL.