MIAMI (AP) -Philip Humber's first major league start will come at a critical time for the New York Mets.
Humber will start Wednesday for the Mets against the Washington Nationals, a game certain to have postseason implications. The right-hander has only four appearances in his brief major league career, all of them out of the bullpen.
Mets manager Willie Randolph announced the decision before New York's game Sunday at the Florida Marlins, and believes the 24-year-old - with three innings of work in two games since being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on Sept. 1 - is the right guy for the job.
``He's going to get the ball and help us win a ballgame,'' said Randolph, who chose Humber over Dave Williams to fill the opening created by the Mets' decision to give Pedro Martinez extra rest between starts.
The Mets entered Sunday 1 1/2 games ahead of Philadelphia in the NL East.
Humber was 11-9 with a 4.27 ERA for New Orleans this season, and got in two games with the Mets in 2006.
``He might throw a gem, and we have to hope that it happens,'' Randolph said
Randolph said he didn't consider using Martinez to fill the Wednesday slot. Martinez is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts since returning from rotator cuff surgery, and struck out seven in five innings to help New York beat the Marlins on Friday night.
``We want to keep Pedro pretty much where he is right now,'' Randolph said. ``He's throwing the ball well, still coming back from surgery, so we don't want to run the risk of setting him back or anything like that.''
The Mets' rotation got some good news Sunday from Orlando Hernandez, who has been sidelined with a sore right foot.
Hernandez said he plans to throw Monday without the protective boot he's worn in recent days and continued donning Sunday, but cautioned that he didn't know when he'd expect to be ready for games again.
``Day to day,'' Hernandez said.

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