NEW YORK — If the Atlanta Braves have their way, Tuesday night won’t be the last or next-to-last time R.A. Dickey pitches for them. If the New York Mets have their way, Tuesday night will be the last time they have to pencil Rafael Montero into the rotation.
A pair of right-handers going in opposite directions will square off Tuesday night when the Mets host the Braves in the third game of a four-game series at Citi Field.
The teams split a doubleheader Monday, when the Braves won the opener 9-2 and the Mets earned a 3-2 victory in the nightcap.
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Dickey (10-10, 4.32 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Montero (5-11, 4.32) in a matchup of pitchers separated by 16 years and many more degrees of regard by their teams.
Dickey, who turns 43 next month, joined a select group by winning his most recent start last Thursday, when he allowed two runs over eight innings as the Braves beat the visiting Washington Nationals 3-2.
The victory was the 10th of the season for Dickey, who is one of only six pitchers — along with Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale, Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke, Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez and Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer — to post double-digit wins in each of the past six years.
Afterward, though, Dickey said he was uncertain if he would be back to attempt a seventh straight 10-win season. The Braves (71-85) hold an $8 million 2018 option on Dickey, who didn’t rule out the possibility of retiring.
“Theoretically, this could be my last start ever at a home venue,” Dickey said. “But we’re going to make that decision at the end of the season and see how I feel, what goes on there. But tonight was special for me.”
The Mets (67-90) are not speaking so glowingly of Montero, who turns 27 next month. Montero continued to madden New York last Wednesday, when he dropped his second straight start after giving up five runs over four innings in a 9-2 loss at Miami.
Montero has lasted fewer than six innings in each of his past four starts, a stretch in which he is 2-2 with a 6.16 ERA while producing a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 16:14. He struck out 72 and walked just 30 in 15 games (11 starts) from June 15 through Aug. 30.
“I really don’t have an answer for you,” Mets manager Terry Collins said regarding Montero’s struggles following a loss to the Braves on Sept. 15. “The bases on balls, probably as they have in the past, hurt him.”
With the Mets expecting to get back injured starters Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler next year, Montero is likely to be stashed at Triple-A Las Vegas if he remains in the organization.
Dickey, who won the National League Cy Young Award with the Mets in 2012, is 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) against his former club. Montero is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA in five career appearances (one start) against the Braves.