MIAMI -- It is no longer completely novel for Pat Misch, who grew up 20 minutes north of Chicago, to pitch at Wrigley Field. Doing so twice in 2007 has tempered Misch's anxiety at least a bit.

But still, when Misch pitches Friday, he'll be a boy from Illinois taking the mound at Wrigley.

"I'm pretty excited," Misch said. "It's obviously where I grew up, going to the games out there. I just like pitching, whether it's starting or relieving, whatever it is. I just like pitching."

Lucky for Misch, he should have plenty of opportunities to do so down the stretch. Earlier this week, Mets manager Jerry Manuel said that barring injury or something unforeseen, his current rotation of Mike Pelfrey, Tim Redding, Bobby Parnell, Nelson Figueroa and Misch should not change between now and the end of the year.

Which means that Misch, most recently nothing more than organizational depth, will have a chance to resurrect his Major League career.

Though Wrigley is a hitter's park, it may not be a bad place to start. Entering this weekend, the Cubs are the coldest team this side of New York, falling ever further out of first place and relinquishing whatever chance they had to make the postseason for a third straight year. And a fair share of the blame has fallen on the offense, which ranks 24th in the Majors in the month of August.

With powerful right-handed hitters clogging up the middle of the lineup, the Cubs do still represent a threat to a lefty starter such as Misch. But things could be worse.

"He should be fine," Manuel said. "I expect him to compete and hopefully give us a chance to win."

Friday's game is the first of three for the Mets in Chicago, before moving on to Denver and the end of their nine-game trip. For Misch, a former Cubs fan who has a 2.89 ERA in 18 2/3 relief innings for the Mets this season, it is both a homecoming and a challenge.

"I try not to think about anything," Misch said. "Just go out there and make good pitches and let the defense play, and go out there and compete."

Left-hander Ted Lilly will start for the Cubs in the second of four straight day games for the Mets.

Pitching matchup
NYM: LHP Pat Misch (0-1, 4.09 ERA)
A starter for most of this season in the Minors, Misch will make his first big league start since last year with the Giants. He was 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 18 2/3 relief innings with the Mets this season, and a 3.68 mark as a starter in Triple-A. In 2007 with the Giants, Misch pitched two relief innings at Wrigley Field, allowing three runs.

CHC: LHP Ted Lilly (9-8, 3.40 ERA)
Lilly has given up two runs in 12 innings in his last two starts, but has yet to get a win -- or much offensive support. The left-hander took the loss in his last start against the Dodgers, serving up two home runs among the three hits he gave up in six innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out five. In his last 70 2/3 innings, Lilly has walked 10 and struck out 64. He leads the Cubs with 16 quality starts. Wrigley Field has been kind to Lilly, who is 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA in nine home starts.

Tidbits
Mets doctors examined third baseman David Wright on Thursday to determine whether or not they would clear him to come off the disabled list Sept. 1. Though the team was unaware of the result after Thursday's game, Manuel did say that he would frequently rest Wright if he did return -- and that he expected a fight. "It'll be Ali-Frazier," Manuel said. "But that's OK. I'm Ali." ... Outfielder Gary Sheffield (left lower back spasms) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game Thursday, though Manuel said he was available to pinch-hit. ... Closer Francisco Rodriguez denied an ESPN rumor that he has been pitching hurt. "I'm 100 percent healthy," he said.

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Up next
• Saturday: Mets (Bobby Parnell, 3-6, 5.08) at Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 7-7, 4.07), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Mets (Nelson Figueroa, 1-3, 5.40) at Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, 7-5, 3.80), 2:20 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day