Cliff Lee (5-7, 3.36 ERA)
It’s safe to say Cliff Lee’s winning problems are a thing of the past. The Arkansas native has won three straight decisions, and is finally pitching like the Lee we all know and love. The only downside is there’s only 15 games left in the season, leaving little time for Lee’s resurgence to have an impact on the Phillies. Lee’s return to form is good news for the Phils on multiple fronts. He provides stability for a rotation with some holes to fill for next year, but also remains a viable trade chip despite his albatross of a contract.
R.A. Dickey (18-5, 2.68 ERA)
If someone told you that R.A. Dickey pitching vs. Cliff Lee would feature the presumptive NL Cy Young favorite the obvious guess would be Cliff Lee. The only thing more shocking than Lee’s struggles have been the lights out pitching of Dickey. He’s the last of a dying breed, featuring the dizzying knuckleball that requires his back stop to sport a hilariously oversized mitt. The Phillies are loath to face him tonight just like the rest of the league, as he has racked up 14 K’s in his 2 games against the Phightins. If watching Dickey on the mound doesn’t provide enough intrigue he is also the star of the most popular sports documentary of the summer aptly titled Knuckleball.
The Mets as a team are only hitting .228 off of Lee, however he has been victim of the long ball against the boys from Queens. Scott Hairston has Lee in his book twice, along with David Wright, Jason Bay, and Ronny Cedendo. Sense a pattern? Clearly keeping the ball inside against righties will be an important part of Lee’s success tonight.
This is Lee’s 5th game against the Mets this season, going 1-1 while tossing 29 K’s. Familiarity should not be a problem for Lee and the rest of the staff tonight (Roy Halladay I’m talking to you).
Despite the frustration of having to face the dreaded Knuckleball several Phillies have put up solid numbers off of Dickey. Chooch is hitting .313 (5-16) off of Dickey while Nate Shierholtz has taken him deep twice. Tonight might be an opportune time for Charlie to get Nate back in the lineup.
The Phillies are coming to New York looking to shake off a disappointing weekend in Houston. It can be tough to prepare for a pitcher like Dickey, but the Phillies are in win or go home mode.