Much was said about R.A. Dickey in the first two months of the season. The 40-year-old sported a 5.23 ERA in April and a 6.27 ERA in May, with a 2-5 record to boot.
Que 1964 Bob Dylan and his track “The Times They Are A Changin’.”
Since the All-Star break, Dickey has been one of the best pitchers in baseball (3-0, 0.99 ERA). Tweaking his mechanics while developing more power through his hips and lower half has allowed him to throw his knuckleball just as fast as he did during his tenure with the New York Mets. He can now consistently pitch in the 79-81 MPH area without laboring, and for strikes. During his 2012 campaign, his average velocity never dropped below 77 MPH, since being acquired by the Blue Jays, Toronto has watched his speed dip to 75 MPH.
In June, R.A. Dickey was generating more ground ball outs, and his strike out numbers began to grow. While punching out 35 batters through the first two months, number 43 came back with 28 through six outings.
His success would carry over into July, where he posted a 2.57 ERA. Dickey capped off the month with a quality start against the Phillies, going 8.0 innings of scoreless baseball. The biggest difference between now and early in the season is the knuckleballers ability to limit the home runs. He witnessed the ball go over the fence 13 times in April and May, and since his tweak, only five have left the ball park.
Coming into his start against the Yankees, R.A. Dickey was 4-0 with a 1.12 WHIP in his last six outings against them. (He was also coming off 15 plus scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals, the latter being one of the best in the American League.) It shouldn’t be surprising that the 40-year-old veteran held the top team in the AL east to one run over seven solid innings. In reality, he has dominated them in his career:
Alex Rodriguez: 3-22 .158 AVG (Since 2011)
Chris Young: 1-13 .077 AVG
Brian McCann: 6-35 .171 AVG
Carlos Beltran: 6-31 .194 AVG
Brett Gardner: 5-23 .217 AVG
Don’t let his 6-10 record fool you, this veteran comes to play every night, and will throw well over 100 pitches if he has to. He has done so in 19 out of 23 starts. Dickey is also 14th in the AL in run support, seeing only 3.83 runs cross the plate every time he hits the mound. In New York, all he needed was two.
His final line: 7.0 IP 6 H 1 ER 2 BB 3 K
With yet another quality outing to his name, Dickey lowered his ERA to 3.93, topping his 3.99 career average. The win may have went to Brett Cecil, but the 40-year-old doesn’t mind one bit. “I think it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who get’s the credit, it’s a neat way to win a ball game tonight,” Dickey said post-game. What else is neat is how well the knuckleballer has recoiled after a devastating start to the season.
Blue Jays fans are relishing at the fact that their old man may be returning to form. Dickey may just be the catalyst that ends up bringing this Blue Jays team over the top for the first time in decades. With a bona fide number one and two starter in David Price and Mark Buehrle, R.A. could be in a position to start a game with life or death implications in the post-season. With the way he’s going…it may not be so bad. Maybe we shouldn’t have been writing him off after all.