As the New York Mets continue to lurk in obscurity in terms of the National League playoff race, R.A. Dickey remains the top story as the season enters its final month.
Through 24 starts, Dickey's statistics are on par with the best pitchers in the league and he stands a fair chance at winning the coveted Cy Young Award.
Despite the reputation of having a terrific pitching staff throughout team history, the Mets have not had a recipient of the award since Dwight Gooden in 1985, and Dickey also has a chance to become the first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990.
There is no guarantee, however, that Dickey will dominate in those starts. He is, after all, a 37-year-old knuckleballer.
Here are four series down the stretch that could potentially derail his candidacy.
When the Mets faced Colorado in a three-game series in April, Dickey did not make a start. The Mets ended up winning the final two games after getting thrashed 18-9 in the opener.
Dickey has only faced the Rockies once in his career, and that did not fare well as he was tagged for five runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings.
The Rockies are 18.5 games back in the NL West thanks to their horrific pitching staff, but they actually boast the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NL, with the third highest batting average.
They have also been playing much better of late, winning 7-of-10.
They are led by Carlos Gonzalez, who is having a monster season and is among the league leaders in OPS (.936).
Dickey must be wary of him, as well as Michael Cuddyer, who is expected back from the DL shortly.
Dickey actually threw a gem against the reigning World Series champs on June 2, when the Mets were in the midst of a hot streak.
The knuckleballer fired a complete-game shutout, scattering seven hits and striking out nine.
The Cardinals, however, are a very dangerous team. As we saw last season, they generally play their best late in the season.
They are in third place in the NL Central, but they boast the highest batting average and on-base percentage in the NL, and they are fourth in runs scored.
Dickey will be up against a team that features seven players with an OPS higher than .800, highlighted by Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday.
In his career, Dickey is 2-1 against the Cardinals with a 4.44 ERA in 26.1 innings.
For some reason, the Atlanta Braves have had Dickey's number this year. Everyone remembers the game earlier in the season when the inclement weather made it difficult for Dickey to grip the baseball.
He also was hit hard in the first game after the All-Star break by the Braves.
For his career, Dickey is 2-5 with a 5.15 ERA against Atlanta.
Oddly enough, the Braves do not boast a very potent lineup. They rank ninth in runs and 15th in batting average, despite their 69-49 record.
Their strength is clearly their remarkable bullpen.
Dickey must be careful of Freddie Freeman, who is quickly becoming a Met-killer, as well as Brian McCann and Michael Bourn, who is having a renaissance-type season.
As always, the Braves are a thorn in the side of the Mets, and they will certainly take pride if they are able to put a dent in Dickey's season.
In 2007, this was the time of the year the Phillies began their remarkable stretch which ultimately caused the epic collapse of the Mets.
By the time this series occurs, however, both teams could be light years away from the Nationals and could be battling not to finish in the cellar.
Regardless of the trades the Phillies made at the deadline, there will always be a bitter rivalry between them and the Mets.
Dickey has been terrific against them in his career, sporting a 2.94 ERA in 52 innings, but they handled him on the July 5th contest which featured David Wright's walk-off single.
The Phillies' offense is 22nd in the majors in runs scored and 17th in batting average, but Dickey must beware of Carlos Ruiz and Ty Wigginton, who have been swinging the bat well.
Ultimately, I believe Dickey will finish with 20 wins because of his remarkable consistency and methodical approach, but I believe Aroldis Chapman's statistics are so mind-boggling that voters will not be able to ignore them unless Dickey goes on another ridiculous scoreless streak to lower his ERA to the low 2.00s.