Sunday, April 7, 2013

A knuckleball is still a knuckleball

Will Middlebrooks homers of R.A. Dickey.
Late last June I wrote a piece called "I'm pretty skeptical of R.A. Dickey."  He was having an unbelievable season for the New York Mets, and had just thrown back to back one-hitters.  Despite what many baseball analysts were saying, I thought it was a fluke.  Here was my rationale:
"Does it really make any sense that a 37 year old pitcher could reinvent himself and suddenly become virtually unhittable?  There is no precedent for that.  But you known what has happened before?  Knuckleball pitchers having ridiculous runs of short term dominance, because the pitch itself is inherently wild and crazy and unpredictable." 
I compared Dickey's numbers to a spectacular summer that Tim Wakefield had back in 1995.  Well, Dickey would finish the year 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, and he won the N.L. Cy Young award.  I was wrong.

But then the offseason came and the Toronto Blue Jays traded for the now 38 year old, with the intentions of making him the ace of their staff.  They should have called me up first.  I'm slightly shocked that the Jays thought he could repeat his extraordinary success of 2012.  It's hard enough for a starting pitcher to go from the weak hitting NL to the DH laden AL, let alone a really old guy who throws knuckleballs.  After getting torched for 8 runs and 10 hits over 4.2 innings today, Dickey is now 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in his first two starts with Toronto.  Yes I know it's a small sample size, but during his hot streak a year ago Dickey allowed just 9 runs in 68.2 innings over a nine game span (in which he went 9-0).  He's given up 12 runs already this season in only 10.2 innings.


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