At 44 years old, David Wells wasn’t sure he’d pitch in the majors again this year after recently being released. Not only does he get a second chance, but the left-hander finds himself back in the thick of a playoff race.
“Nothing like getting thrown in the fire,” said Wells, who was cut by his hometown Padres on Aug. 9, but signed with Los Angeles for the remainder of the season on Friday. “I’ve accepted a lot of challenges in my career, but this is going to rank right up there. I’m just going to go out and pour my heart into it.
“My heart tells me that I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I might not look sexy, but I feel sexy.”
However, Wells struggled in his last four outings with the Padres, going 0-3 with a 14.33 ERA. In his final start on Aug. 6, he was tagged for seven runs and a season-high 11 hits over four innings of a 10-5 loss in St. Louis.
A 21-year veteran who’s won 235 games, Wells’ track record in September is what the Dodgers are counting on in their push to make their second straight playoff appearance. He’s 37-25 with a 3.90 ERA in 115 games, including 73 starts, during that month.
“He’s a true competitor who has pitched well down the stretch numerous times and we believe he can do so again this season,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement.
Los Angeles, though, begins play tied with Colorado for third in the NL West, 6 1/2 games behind first-place Arizona. The Dodgers and Rockies also trail the Padres by 4 1/2 games for the NL wild card.
Wells enjoyed arguably his greatest success while pitching for the New York Yankees. He posted 68 regular-season victories in two stints with them, including a perfect game in 1998, and also beat the Padres in Game 1 of the World Series that year as New York cruised to a four-game sweep.
“He likes pitching in big games and we’re going to try to get ourselves in a position where we’ve got several of those left,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “The only thing I know about David Wells is that when he goes out there he’s going to give you everything he’s got.”
Wells defeated the Mets on July 16 and improved to 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA in eight career starts against them.
John Maine (13-7, 3.64) has emerged as the Mets’ ace this season, but will try again for his first career win over the Dodgers. The right-hander is 1-2 with an 8.68 ERA in four starts this month, but 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers in which he’s received only one run of support.
Maine failed to record a decision his last time out, limiting San Diego to three runs and six hits with four walks over 5 2-3 innings of the Mets’ 7-6 win on Tuesday behind five RBIs from Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo’s walk-off single.
Castillo, though, is expected to miss his third straight game with a sore right knee. Ruben Gotay, who had two hits Friday night playing in place of Castillo, went 0-for-4 Saturday as New York held on for a 4-3 win.
“We’re just going to take our time with it and give him another day,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “Castillo is still a little banged-up.”
The Mets have won nine of their last 12 to open up a seven-game division lead over the Phillies and Braves, which both lost Saturday. New York will play a four-game series in Philadelphia starting Monday night followed by three in Atlanta.
The Dodgers’ Juan Pierre went 1-for-4, and is hitting .386 (22-for-57) during a 13-game hitting streak, one short of his season high set from July 4-21. He’s 2-for-5 with a triple in his career against Maine.