Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his second National League start on Wednesday night when his latest team - the New York Mets - host the Philadelphia Phillies in the third test of a four-game series at Citi Field.
Now 33 years old, the Japanese-born right-hander was a 15-game winner for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox in 2007 and went 18-3 a season later, but struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness for the remainder of his stay with the team.
He became a free agent after the 2012 season and signed with the Cleveland Indians in February, but went just 5-8 in 19 starts at Triple-A Columbus before requesting and being granted his release.
The Mets signed him on Aug. 22 and immediately slotted him for a start the following day against Detroit, a game in which he allowed five runs on six hits in five innings of a 6-1 loss.
His importance through the end of the season was magnified by the disclosure earlier this week that young New York ace Matt Harvey will miss the rest of the season with a ligament injury in his right elbow that will likely require Tommy John surgery.
Matsuzaka, who is 1-0 in two career starts against the Phillies, will be opposed by enigmatic Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels.
Hamels has won just five times in 27 starts this season after winning 17 games in 31 starts a season ago.
The 30-year-old is actually unbeaten in his last five starts since a 2-1 loss at Detroit on July 26, but has managed just one win in the same stretch - a 5-1 triumph at Atlanta on Aug. 12.
The Phillies are 6-4 in his last 10 starts, and Hamels is 6-12 in 24 career meetings with the Mets.
The last time he met New York, he took a 5-4 loss after giving up four runs on seven hits in five innings on July 20.
On Tuesday, Jonathon Niese pitched his second career shutout and drove in three runs, and the new-look Mets snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-0 win.
Prior to the game, the Mets traded outfielder Marlon Byrd, catcher John Buck and cash considerations to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for minor league infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.
However, despite dealing their home run leader in Byrd and still playing without star David Wright, who is battling a strained hamstring, New York generated more than enough offense.
Niese (6-6) allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out five for his first shutout since June 10, 2010. The 26-year-old southpaw has been performing great since returning from the disabled list, picking up his third win in four starts.
Daniel Murphy and Travis d'Arnaud had an RBI apiece for New York.
Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (10-11) gave up all five runs -- one earned -- on five hits and four walks over six innings.
The Phillies won seven of the first 12 games with the Mets in 2013, though New York won two of three at Citi Field from July 19-21.