R.A. Dickey didn't do much on July 5 to cement his status as National League All-Star Game starter, as the 37-year-old knuckleballer turned in one of his worst efforts of the year in a tilt against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Dickey scattered 11 hits while allowing five runs in seven innings of work, which raised his ERA to 2.40.
La Russa's Take
To make matters worse, NL All-Star Game manager Tony La Russa didn't give any indication that he's favoring Dickey for the starter's role.
"This isn't to highlight one player or one pitcher or a handful of players or a handful of pitchers," La Russa said on a conference call about the All-Star Game. "Dickey could certainly start the game. He's got the credentials. But I look at the starter types of the five guys that were selected and each of those guys can make a claim."
Ouch. That didn't sound like a glowing endorsement for Dickey.
To be fair, La Russa is doing right by the game to give each of the five All-Star selections a fair crack at the starter's role.
Dickey's shaky effort against the Phillies tightened the race a bit, as he fell to No. 3 in the league in ERA and didn't gain much ground on Stephen Strasburg in the strikeout category.
Dickey leads Washington Nationals ace Gio Gonzalez and St. Louis Cardinals phenom Lance Lynn in victories by one, but there's plenty of time for the aforementioned stars to close the gap.
Gonzalez vs Dickey
Gonzalez, perhaps Dickey's closest competition for the starter's job, is 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA, and he has one more start left before the All-Star break.
A win by Gonzalez on July 7 against the Colorado Rockies would tie him for the NL lead in victories, and could perhaps give him the edge over Dickey in ERA depending on how solid his effort is.
Additionally, Lynn didn't make it any easier on Dickey, as he cruised to his 11th victory by fanning seven in six solid innings against the Colorado Rockies on July 5.
As much as I hate to admit it, I have a feeling that Gonzalez is going to lock down the All-Star Game starter's role with a dominating effort against the Rockies.
He has given up less hits, runs, earned runs and homers than Dickey, and allowed a .195 BAA to opposing hitters. Dickey's opposing BAA is .203. If Gonzalez notches 11 strikeouts and a win on July 7, he would be tied with Dickey in both categories.
Who should start the All-Star Game for the National League? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong New York Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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