Mark Prior is regaining his form at an opportune time.
Looking to reach the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 1907-08, the Cubs will need Prior to be at his best down the stretch. He certainly has been of late.
In two of his last three starts, the right-hander has flashed the form he showed a year ago, when he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA.
Facing the Florida Marlins for the second time in 10 days, Prior allowed just one run and five hits over 7 2-3 innings in a 5-1 win Monday. On Sept. 10, Prior pitched eight innings in an 11-2 victory over Florida. Both outings were his longest and most effective of the season.
“I felt great,” Prior said after Monday’s victory. “At this point I’m in really good shape. My legs are great. I’m just trying to finish strong and be ready for the playoffs.”
The Cubs took the series opener 2-1 on Friday as Derrek Lee came through with a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 10th inning.
Chicago has won four straight and 13 of 16 to take a 1 1/2 -game lead over San Francisco in the wild-card race.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Cubs reliever Mike Remlinger said. “It seems like we come in here every day expecting to find a way to win.”
Aaron Heilman will take the mound for the Mets. The right-hander is coming off the best outing of his career—albeit in a 1-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Heilman allowed one run and two hits over seven innings.
“I felt good,” Heilman said. “The last few starts, I felt like it’s the best I’ve thrown, especially this year. I feel good about the progress I’m making. I’ve been working on things and I’m relaxing and letting things happen.