Glavine ready for next challenge

Glavine ready for next challenge

LOS ANGELES -- Before the champagne began soaking into the floor at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night, Tom Glavine was already thinking about his next assignment. For the first time since 2001, he was preparing himself for something he'd done so often just a decade ago.

"You always have one eye on what's ahead," Glavine said as he and his Mets teammates celebrated their sweep of the Dodgers in the National League Division Series.

What's ahead for Glavine is a Game 1 start against the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. Even before the game time and opponent were known, the veteran southpaw was well aware of his assignment.

With both Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez injured and unavailable for the remainder of the postseason, Glavine is truly the only reliable starting pitcher the Mets possess. Thus, it will be important for him to provide an effort similar to one he authored against the Dodgers on Thursday night.

"I'm looking forward to the next one," said Glavine, who tossed six scoreless innings against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLDS. "It's a tempered excitement right now."

As the week progresses, the excitement will grow even for Glavine, who will be making his 34th career postseason start -- matching Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte for the most all-time. But with all of his past experiences gained with the Braves, the 40-year-old hurler should at least be able to harness his emotions.

"It's good to have butterflies, but they've got to fly in formation right towards the [catcher's] glove," Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson said. "Having Tommy, with 34 career [postseason] starts, going in Game 1 is absolutely huge for us."

This will be the 16th time Glavine has started an NLCS game, but just the first time since 2001. He made a start in each NLCS played from 1991-99 and has had the privilege of making eight World Series starts.

As he's learned, each round of the postseason brings a different level of emotion.

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"Each step along the way, you're closer to being where you want to be," Glavine said. "So you're getting a little more anxious and excited."

During his previous 15 starts in the NLCS, Glavine is 5-9 with a 3.31 ERA. But that ERA is a bit deceiving. During Game 6 of the 1992 NLCS against the Pirates, he lasted one inning and allowed eight earned runs. During Game 6 in 1997, he allowed the Marlins seven earned runs in just five innings.

Take away those two appearances -- both of which came on short rest -- and Glavine is 5-7 with a 1.97 ERA in his other 13 NLCS starts.

"He's a big-money pitcher, big-game pitcher," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Since encountering some problems with his blood circulation in August, Glavine has proven his health through impressive results. Dating back to Sept. 7 and running through the Division Series, he's made six starts, going 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA.

"I feel great," Glavine said. "Physically, I feel good about where I'm at, and I feel good about the way I've been throwing the ball."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.