Monday’s pitching preview: R.A. Dickey vs. Cliff Lee

R.A. Dickey (18-5, 2.68 ERA) will start for the Mets tonight.

Dickey took a loss in his last start after allowing three runs in seven innings to the Nationals. Still, Dickey leads the league in ERA, complete games, and shutouts. He’s second in the league in innings pitched, strikeouts, and WHIP and wins. Dickey is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this season, and 8-2 with a 2.55 ERA in 15 appearances and 14 starts at Citi Field.

Cliff Lee (5-7, 3.36 ERA) will start for the Phillies tonight.

After going 1-5 with a 3.98 ERA in the first half, Lee has rebounded to go 4-2 with a 2.66 ERA in the second half, walking just seven batters in 84 2/3 innings over 12 starts. He allowed an unearned run on four hits against the Marlins in his last start for his fifth win of the season. Lee is 1-1 with a 3.67 ERA in four starts against the Mets this season.

Michael Baron, Contributor

With Clayton Kershaw out indefinitely and Johnny Cueto struggling for the Reds lately, Dickey’s primary competition for the Cy Young Award appears to be Gio Gonzalez. Still, Dickey would probably have to pitch the worst baseball of his season to lose his grip on the award. He will surpass Kershaw in both innings pitched and strikeouts shortly, but as long as he leads or is in the top two in all of the major statistical categories, he should be able to maintain his stature as the best pitcher in baseball in 2012 and win the Cy Young.