MIAMI -- In the immediate aftermath of R.A. Dickey's third shutout of the season and 17th victory, a 3-0 gem against the Marlins on Friday night, Mets manager Terry Collins was asked if he thinks the knuckleballer should win the National League Cy Young Award.
"I do," Collins said. "I do."
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Collins doesn't get a vote, though. The voting will be done after the regular season by 32 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America -- two from each NL city -- and will be announced in mid-November.
With a month to go before the regular season ends Oct. 3, Dickey has as good a chance as anyone. He is 17-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 1911/3 innings.
He also has a unique back story. He throws a quirky pitch, climbed a mountain for charity in the offseason, co-wrote a gripping personal memoir, is one of the subjects of a movie coming out later this month and was a first-time All-Star at the age of 37.
Going into Saturday, Dickey was tied for the major-league lead in wins with Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto and Washington's Gio Gonzalez. He was third in ERA for NL starters behind leader Cueto (2.48) and second in NL strikeouts behind Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw (192).
Dickey's three shutouts lead the league, as do his five complete games. He had an NL-best 11-game winning streak from April 25 to July 19.
And he has done all this while pitching for a team that went into Saturday night's game at Marlins Park with a record of 62-70 (45-66 in games in which Dickey did not have a decision).
"We've had a tough time scoring runs, especially in the second half of the season, and he continues to win," Collins said. "We are [eight] games below .500 and he's  games over .500. That says a lot."
It remains to be seen if the Mets' second-half woes will work against Dickey. Some voters might give the nod to a pitcher from a contending team. Or they might lean the other way and give Dickey credit for continuing to win despite the Mets' record.
"I know we've had a collapse in the second half," Collins said, "but when you look at what he's done the entire year . . . He's racked up numbers against every team in baseball. No matter who he's faced, he's pitched great."
Dickey, whose next start will come Wednesday in St. Louis against 13-game winner Adam Wainwright, has consistently maintained that he is not thinking about becoming the first Met to win 20 games since Frank Viola in 1990 or the third Met to win the Cy Young Award. Tom Seaver won it in 1969, 1973 and 1975 and Dwight Gooden took the award in 1985.
"That's my story," Dickey said on Friday, "and I'm sticking to it."
Dickey has a two-time Cy Young Award winner as a teammate in Johan Santana. Among the pitching fraternity, a Cy Young is like a gold medal to Olympic athletes -- an unmistakable status symbol.
"If you win an award," Dickey said Saturday night, "you're basically voted the best pitcher in the world. I would say that gives you some immediate credibility.
"But," he added, "I don't need an award, necessarily, to tell me how I've performed."