10:25 am Sep. 18, 2012
Are the Mets' struggles going to cost R.A. Dickey his chance at a Cy Young Award?
They certainly didn't help Monday night. Dickey was his usual excellent self, striking out eight and allowing just two solo home runs over seven innings. But the Mets were also their usual offensively inept selves, and Dickey was charged with a loss in a 3-1 defeat to the Philadelphia Phillies.
As the Mets have faded in the season's second half, things like David Wright's M.V.P. candidacy obviously fell by the wayside. Voters are generally loath to give the M.V.P. to players on non-contending teams, with rare exceptions.
But Cy Young Award winners come from losing teams more frequently. Felix Hernandez won the American League award for a 61-101 Seattle team in 2010, a year after Zach Greinke took home that hardware for a 65-97 Kansas City team in 2009.
The problem Dickey has is stiff competition in the National League, with pitchers Gio Gonzalez for the Washington Nationals, Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers all pitching well, and for good teams.
Cueto has faltered of late, and Kershaw is likely out for the season with a hip injury, making this essentially a two-horse race with Gonzalez. And with the two pitchers neck-and-neck for both strikeouts and E.R.A., it is entirely possible this will come down to wins.
The Mets helped Dickey quite a bit in this regard through the end of July. Dickey had a 14-2 record to go with his 2.83 E.R.A., the Mets were scoring 5.6 runs per game for him, and 20 wins looked pretty safe.
Since August 1, however, Dickey has just a 4-4 record, even though his E.R.A. in those eight starts since is a half-run lower, at 2.33. The Mets have scored just 3.1 runs per game for him.
The Nationals, meanwhile, have scored just under 5.3 runs per game for Gonzalez this season.
The reason isn't a mystery; the Mets aren't scoring runs for any pitcher these days. In fact, Dickey's run support is better than what his teammates have received on balance; since August 1, the Mets are averaging a paltry 2.95 runs per game. If they played at that offensive pace over a full season, they'd score 478 runs, or less than the Mets have in any single season but two: 1968, the year of the pitcher, when Bob Gibson pitched to a 1.12 E.R.A. and the league-wide offensive outage led to rule changes favoring the hitter, and 1981, when a strike limited the baseball season to just 105 games. The 1994 Mets, who played just 113 games because of that season's strike, scored 506 runs.
All of which is to say that a bad team can still feature a Cy Young Award winner, but the particularly gruesome offensive struggles of the Mets might be so extreme as to cost Dickey whatever shot he would have had.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Andy Pettitte makes his long-awaited return Tuesday night for the Yankees, who are just 1/2 game up on the Orioles.
Darrelle Revis has still not been cleared to play against the Dolphins Sunday.
Thierry Henry won M.L.S. Player of the Week honors for a fourth time this season, thanks in part to this absurd goal against Columbus in Saturday's 3-1 win.