I can't believe I'm actually asking this question right now, but is there a better starting pitcher in baseball as of today than R.A. Dickey?
The guy who spent time with four organizations over a five-year span from 2006-2010, the guy who two years ago started the season in Triple-A, the guy who throws a knuckleball for God's sake, is the pitcher who no one in the majors wants to face right now.
Dickey dominated the Nationals nearly two weeks ago, holding them scoreless over 7 1/3 innings and allowing just four hits. But what he's done his last two times out has been even more impressive.
The 37-year-old has tossed back-to-back one-hitters (over two teams who are a combined 19 games over .500, mind you), striking out 25 and walking just two over that two-game span.
Dickey is 11-1 on the season, hasn't lost since April 18, hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 42 2/3 innings and has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 63:5 over his last six starts.
Truly remarkable stuff. Dickey has to start the All-Star Game for the National League, right?
Meanwhile, after scoring just three runs over 20 2/3 innings against Yankees starting pitchers the last three games, the Nationals won't get any breaks today when they open their series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
David Price will take the mound for the Rays tonight, he of the 8-4 record and 3.01 ERA.
Over Price's last five starts, he's allowed one earned run or fewer in four of them. The one sub-par outing came his last time out, when the lefty allowed seven runs over five innings to the Mets. His ERA jumped over 60 points due to that one performance.
The Nats' middle of the order, which struggled against the Yankees and got called out by manager Davey Johnson on Sunday will have to try and get their act together against a power lefty who has been in a zone lately.
Bryce Harper was left flailing and looking silly when he faced Yankees lefties Andy Pettitte and Clay Rapada over the weekend, but he struggles against soft-tossing southpaws or lefties with sidewinding motions. The hard-throwing Price should be a better matchup for Harper, whose numbers against lefties this season (.346/.404/.596) are still incredibly impressive.
The Nats will send Chien-Ming Wang to the hill tonight, looking to get their first strong start out of the veteran righty since he moved into the rotation on May 30.
Wang has failed to go more than five innings in any of his three starts. His pitch count has risen quickly and his sinker hasn't had that hard bite down in the zone.
Instead of skipping Wang's turn in the rotation and pitching Stephen Strasburg on what would actually be an extra day of rest due to two off-days, Johnson is keeping everything in line. Wang goes tonight, while Strasburg will pitch tomorrow on six days' rest.